Point Mugu and Ocean Research

When I visited Point Mugu I didn’t yet know what kind of lens I would be using when writing about my experience. However, the direction from which I took my photos made one feature of the location very noticeable. The south side of the cape lacks a sandy beach altogether!

south of the cape, no sand

This immediately brought to mind longshore drift, the idea that sand is constantly being transported parallel to the shoreline in one direction. Since my sand-less photos are from the south side of the cape, this means that the longshore transport in this area is moving sand from north to south. This causes the sand to pile up on the north side of the cape (forming the sandy beach) and be entirely absent from the south side. As it turns out, I’m not the only one to make use of this phenomenon in this location for academic/research purposes.

A 1975 technical memorandum titled “Surf Observations and Longshore Current Prediction” was written by James H. Basille of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Coastal Engineering Research Center [link]. This report aimed to test sophisticated prediction models of longshore currents by comparing it to data gathered by the Littoral Environment Observation (LEO) program. That said, it is of particular interest to me that this data was collected along the coast at Point Mugu.

According to a 1981 technical engineering aid titled “The Littoral Environment Observation (LEO) Data Collection Program” by Christine Schneider (for the same organizations as the previous document) [link, page 9], “LEO sites are normally located in areas where there are no natural or man-made structures to locally influence the behavior of waves and currents.” This would imply that Point Mugu coastline is sufficiently devoid of development for use in the study of natural ocean wave and current properties, or at least that it was in 1975. Data such as the kind collected by the LEO program is important for engineering endeavors and effective environmental protection, so locations like Point Mugu are valuable for their ability to serve as sites for the collection of this data.

2 thoughts on “Point Mugu and Ocean Research

  1. kayleen.velasquez960 says:

    Hi Christopher,
    I have difficulty knowing what lens I’m going to use when visiting beaches as well. I really enjoyed the photos you were able to capture that visually displayed the longshore drift concept we learned about in class. Did you visit this beach during high or low tide? It looks like you accidentally stumbled upon an academically used beach completely by accident. It’s interesting how things sometimes just fall into our lap, or in this case, I guess it washed into your lap.

  2. paulena.lam935 says:

    Christopher,
    I like the additional research information you provided that tells the historic environmental protections for science on that beach. It would be interesting to hear what the Coastal Engineering center has found out as far as what and how much data was collected and what findings were discovered through that research. As well if it is still currently under research. It’s nice to know that there are measures in place to protect this resource!

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