Carteret County has had no problem finding sand for Bogue Banks beach nourishment projects, like the one pictured, last year, but a study is underway to find additional sand  sources. (Carteret County Shore Protection Office photo)


EMERALD ISLE — Chris Freeman of Geodynamics, the county’s beach surveying firm, said Monday the search for offshore sand to use for future beach nourishment projects so far is going well.

Speaking during the Carteret County Beach Commission meeting in Emerald Isle and online via Zoom, Mr. Freeman said initial survey work in the ocean, while plagued by some bad weather and high seas, has indicated there might be a number of good spots – apparently corresponding with erosion “hot spots” – not too far off Bogue Banks

In those areas, potentially beach-quality sand could be dredged up and used in the future along the island.

So far, Geodynamics has been surveying state waters, which extend from the shore to three miles offshore, but the firm plans to try to get permission to survey possible sand deposits in federal waters, too. The feds’ main concerns are cultural resources, such as shipwrecks, and disturbances in fish habitats.

To increase the speed of the survey, Geodynamics plans to enlist help from a vessel from the Duke University Marine Lab on Pivers Island so work can go on 24 hours a day, Mr. Freeman said during the meeting.

“We’re really seeing some things that could easily be good sand,” he said. Some of the good spots are in what is in what are called “paleo channels,” old channels that ran to the ocean before being buried as sea level rose.

The next step, Mr. Freeman told beach commissioners, is to take vibracore samples to see how good and plentiful the suspected sand deposits actually are.

“We’re trying to find sand as close to the beach as we can” to reduce the cost of transporting it to Bogue Banks beaches, he said.

Mr. Freeman said he hopes the survey work will end in 30 to 40 days before moving on to taking samples.

The beach commission endorsed the project last year, and county commissioners approved $1 million for this first phase of the work.

At that time, Greg Rudolph, then manager of the County Shore Protection Office, noted there are “sand wars” in Florida, as local governments scramble to find beach-quality material for increasing numbers of nourishment projects.

At that same meeting, Doug Piatkowski of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said there is increasing demand for Outer Continental Shelf sand in the federal waters, which extend from 3 to 200 miles offshore, in part because the resources in state waters are diminishing

It’s the result of increasing number of hurricanes and coastal erosion, he added.

The county’s goal is to make sure that in addition to the traditional sand “borrow” site off Atlantic Beach, there will be enough sand to available to cover the needs for the 46 remaining years in the county’s 50-year beach nourishment master plan.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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