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OC Inlet EarthCache

Hidden : 6/9/2008
In Maryland, United States
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size: not chosen (not chosen)

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Geocache Description:

We're dedicating OC Inlet Earthcache to the memory of Kathy Mathias, Town Clerk of Ocean City, who paved the way for us to create it. Kathy was the wife of State Senator Jim Mathias and the mother of Lauren and Trevor. Trevor's efforts to replace the descriptive signs in 2007 as his final Eagle Scout Project made his mother proud. Hundreds of geocachers have logged this cache.

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The answers to the questions may be found at the listed coords on a descriptive sign located at the Ocean City Inlet. There is Municipal Parking at the Inlet (for a fee), or you may park elsewhere and walk to the Inlet on the Boardwalk.

Prior to 1933, Fenwick Island (where you are standing) and Assateague Island (visible across the Inlet) were part of the same continuous barrier spit located off the coast of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. On August 23, 1933 a major hurricane came through the area, breaching the barrier spit at the Ocean City Inlet, and dividing the previously continuous peninsula into Fenwick Island to the north, and Assateague Island to the south.

The storm of 1933 changed the face and life-style of Ocean City. The railroad bridge from the mainland was destroyed and never rebuilt.Commercial fishing camps on the island to the south of town were been destroyed, and only a few tried to rebuild. A new era was about to begin.

Sport fishing, the hunt for big game fish, was all made possible by this magnificent storm that cut a new, deep-water inlet. This in turn would soon, with in several years, earn Ocean City the title of the White Marlin Capital of the World.

Jetty construction began on each side of the newly formed inlet in September of 1933, designed to create and maintain a navigable waterway between coastal lagoon and ocean.

The northern 10 kilometers of Assateague Island National Seashore (referred to as the North End of Assateague Island), terminated to the north by the Ocean City Inlet, is an extremely unique environment. It is prime habitat for state-and federally-listed endangered species, and protects the mainland directly to the west from storm events, and wave and tidal energy. The fragile nature of the North End environment is thought to be primarily caused by an interruption in longshore sediment transport by the jetties built around the Ocean City Inlet in 1933.

Since the jetties were built, unnatural erosion and accelerated shoreline migration has been occurring on northern Assateague Island. Between the time of the 1933 hurricane and present, the ocean shoreline in this area has shifted westward more than 350 meters, resulting in whole scale geomorphologic, habitat, and biotic changes that would not have occurred under natural circumstances.

Created from original aerial photography by Jane Thomas

The water current along the Atlantic coast continuously moves sand from up the coast and from the seafloor in a southern direction along the undisturbed shoreline, maintaining the barrier islands. This natural process has been disrupted by the jetties at Ocean City, leading to reduced migration of sediment to Assateague Island. This reduction, combined with natural overwash, is causing Assateague Island to move west towards the mainland.

To learn more, you may wish to visit EarthCaches “Assateague Island On The Move” (GCZNVY) and “Chincoteague Bay EarthCache” (GC1BPNK).


Send us an email with answers to the following questions:
  a) Certain old objects may appear on the beach after storms. What are they?
  b) Name the natural process which causes barrier islands to move.
  c) Which direction is their movement?.
  d) From 1935 until recently, the North End moved how many feet per year?

OPTIONAL BUT NOT REQUIRED: We’d enjoy seeing a picture of you with your GPS (or just your GPS) and the interpretive sign, but please be sure that your picture does not reveal the wording on the sign!


For more information: “Assateague NS”

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1,127 Logged Visits

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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 10/22/2017 1:26:46 PM Pacific Daylight Time (8:26 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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