Date of Award

Fall 2002

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)




College of Science

First Advisor

Paul T. Gayes


The importance of monitoring coastal morphology has become paramount as populations along the US coastlines are expanding as well as the need for state and federal funding to protect coastal investments and habitat, provide recreational beaches and support state-local beach economies. Due to slowly rising sea-level beach erosion has become major issue for coastal managers, engineers and scientists (Larson, 1998). Beaches themselves are composed of sediments that essentially act as wave buffers and shoreline protectors (Pettit, 1990). These sediments exist in a natural highly variable system, which may show distinct spatial patterns. The study area for this paper is a 14.5 km section of South Carolina coastline located in Myrtle Beach and known as the Grand Strand. Morphology of the beach is widely variable along the study area, but generally shows a mild slope along the intertidal portion (Hall; Halsey, 1991). Beach and near-shore morphology is typically assessed using sequential beach profiles. These profiles collected over time record two-dimensional changes in beach height and position (Short, 1999). This study applies rigorous gridding routines to dense elevation data to produce three-dimensional topographic maps from which elevation change can be spatially assessed in 3 dimensions. Bathymetric data was collected using a Real-Time-Kinematic Global Positioning System (RTK-GPS) combined with a motion compensated single-beam sonar on a ridged hull inflatable boat (RHIB). The Beach survey utilized an all-terrain vehicle with the RTK system mounted securely to the back. Utilization of MAT LAB software for the verification of the topographical grids enabled the calculation of volume change for the two dimensional beach profiles. From the evaluation of this data over a two-year period from 2001-2002 elevation change in the inner shelf of the Grand Strand seems to occur in distinct spatial patterns.