For Scripps Institution of Oceanographer professor Robert Guza, it’s a beautiful puzzle waiting to be solved.
Guza and his team set up a shipping crate packed with equipment along Highway 101 in Cardiff. They’re watching a couple hundred yards of new beach sand hoping winter storms take it back so they can follow it.
“Our past work suggests a surprising amount of it goes right off shore, makes a sand bar that sits there for the winter and can come back to the same beach next summer. We know that can happen, but we’re not sure how much sand will come back and under what circumstances,” Guza said.
A laser is shooting the beach seven times a second watching as the grains of sand are washed back to sea. Offshore instruments measure sand piling up and some being carried elsewhere. In the end, all computer moments in time will become an animated view of where the sand goes.
SANDAG will then determine whether the sand replenishment projects are worth the expense.