Landslides Created a New Beach in California

Changes are afoot in Rancho Palos Verdes

Landslide damage in Rancho Palos Verdes
Efforts to mitigate landslide damage in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California has been on the receiving end of a lot of natural disasters recently — including landslides that put the famed Wayfarers Chapel at risk and necessitated it being moved. Those aren’t the only ways in which the landslides have changed the landscape in and around the city of Rancho Palos Verdes, however. There’s also the matter of a beach that didn’t exist at this time last year.

In a recent dispatch at the Los Angeles Times, Grace Toohey explained just how we’ve gotten to the point of a literal new coastline. As Toohey explained, the same geological unrest that led to the landslides has also elevated bentonite, creating a beach — albeit a rocky one — where previously there was just the ocean.

One longtime surfer who Toohey spoke with expressed shock at the changes. “There’s three or four of us that have been surfing down here our whole lives, and we’re just blown away because it’s unreal,” Denny Jaconi told the Los Angeles Times.

The altered coastline stands as a reminder that geological activity is a constant — and that the world is always changing. Five years ago, CNN reported on a related phenomenon, in this case the creation of new black sand beaches in Hawaii as a result of the eruption of the volcano Kilauea. At the time, Ross Birch of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau told CNN that he hoped beachgoers would “always remember the island of Hawaii’s unique ability to be ever-evolving.”

Lloyd Wright’s Wayfarers Chapel Is Being Moved
Landslides threaten the beloved structure

In the case of Rancho Palos Verdes, the landslide is behaving as expected. “If enough material accumulates at the bottom and it is not removed through erosion, there may be bulging or uplift that occurs as materials accumulate and create upward deformation,” Nevada State University geologist El Hachemi Bouali informed the Los Angeles Times. It’s a sobering reminder of the planet’s volatility — and it has a view of the ocean.

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