Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Andrew shortens lifetime of Louisiana Barrier Islands


  • Susan Bush


Because the Isles Dernieres, a series of four barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana, have one of the most rapidly eroding shorelines in the world, geologists at the U.S. Geological Survey and the Louisiana Geological Survey have been monitoring erosion activity over the last several years, said Jeff Williams of the USGS in Reston, Va. Hurricane Andrew, which struck the state on August 26, caused severe erosional damage to these islands that has shortened their lifetimes.

Before Andrew struck, geologists projected that Raccoon Island would disappear below sea level by the year 2001 and that Whiskey Island would disappear by 2016. Now, due to the severe erosion from Hurricane Andrew, the scientists claim that the islands may disappear before the turn of the century, and the other islands in the Dernieres chain are expected to follow suit within 2 decades. Raccoon, Whiskey, Trinity, and East islands make up the Isles Dernieres, which existed as one island, known as the Isle Derniere, before an 1856 hurricane and subsequent erosion.