San Diego Landmark Could Disappear

A beautiful San Diego beach may be worth visiting now – before it’s too late

By Sarah Grieco
|  Thursday, Dec 1, 2011  |  Updated 2:06 PM PDT
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Sunset Cliffs was featured in Wanderlust's Top 5 Disappearing Places.

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A beautiful San Diego beach may be worth visiting now – before it’s too late.

Yahoo! News Wanderlust recently named Sunset Cliffs one of its Top 5 Disappearing Places. San Diego’s treasured cliffs were fourth on the list of places that could soon vanish because of natural and human causes.

Dr. Pat Abbott, a geology professor at San Diego State University, said there’s no way to pinpoint exactly when the cliffs will eventually disappear.

“It’s hard to say because we don’t just let nature run its course out there,” he said.

Abbott said each portion of the cliffs erodes differently, depending on the waves and sea wall put in place for protection.

“Make no mistake—the walls do not stop the erosion,” he said. “They slow down the wave attack, but ultimately it will collapse.”

The rock behind the walls will deteriorate with time because of runoff. Once the barrier is gone, an already-weakened area is susceptible to further collapse.

While the runoff is certainly destructive to the picturesque area, Abbott maintained the natural erosion is much more severe.

 “It doesn’t compare with the ocean waves beating against the cliffs,” he said.

Other places on the list included Glacier National Park in Montana and the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in Colorado. Abbott was surprised to hear Sunset Cliffs made the top 5.

“Of all the places and with all the California coastline, who’d think it would be San Diego?” he said.

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