Finding Sustainable Solutions to Shoreline Erosion using Detailed Slope Measurement with a Laser Tool

Authors: Dean Wink, Ethan Hensel

Mentors: Ozgur Yavuzecetin, Juk Bhattacharyya


Shoreline erosion is a very serious problem for anyone who lives next to an ocean or the great lakes. This problem has only gotten worse due to climate change causing rising water levels and increasing intense weather causing more erosion. Creating 3-dimensional maps of unstable slopes using devices like Leica’s DISTO E7500I,  helps us better understand the overall slope dynamics as well as what factors may be causing it to fail. 

The focus of my research is to find a more environmentally conscious solution to shoreline erosion that does not negatively affect the existing ecosystems and provides long-term benefits for the people it affects. My current field area is along the shorelines of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. I am using a Leica DISTO E7500I device to create maps of areas of erosion to better understand their structure. I have found this device incredibly useful as it is able to measure the length of a particular section as well as the angle between two points. Using this device also allows me to safely measure the slope at the bottom as opposed to having to climb a very uneven and unstable terrain. Using this device is also much cheaper and easier than using a drone to take aerial measurements.

Our approach might be able to provide detailed data for implementing remediation measures other than short-term  “Hard stabilization” methods such as breakwaters and groins. Those measures often end up making the issue worse in the long run.   

Our initial idea is that native plants can be used to help hold the soil in place as well as terracing the slope in order to reduce the undercutting that happens on slopes. We plan to test our hypothesis in small and large scale settings to see if these solutions might be beneficial for homeowners. Erosion will always be a problem and we are not attempting to completely solve the problem, just make it more manageable for homeowners to handle.

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 55, No. 6, 2023
doi: 10.1130/abs/2023AM-392095
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