Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations
Small sand volume barrier islands · By Dirk Frankenberg
Beach and berm
Figure 2 shows another view of the same rather dull topography of beach and berm. A little life can be seen in the middle background where pioneering sand dune plants have established a precarious roothold. In the left background you can see where sand has been washed over the berm and into the salt marsh beyond. This is a common occurrence during storms and is called a washover event by coastal geologists. The one you see here was created during Hurricane Floyd. Overwash events are one of the natural processes by which sand moves landward during periods of rising sea level. This landward transport maintains the existence of the barrier island, although not in exactly the same place geographically. The slight change of location is not a problem on an undeveloped island like Masonboro, but as you will see, it can be a problem when the island overwashes out from under beachfront houses and roads.