Researchers Map Del Mar Bluffs After Wet Winter Brings Collapse After Collapse

Researchers are taking a closer look at the Del Mar bluffs after a wet winter, in part, brought a string of collapses in the well-traversed area.

Dozens of bluff collapses have occurred in the area over the past several months due to recent rainfall and groundwater runoff, as well as crashing waves below, according to researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The destruction has become a safety concern for residents in Del Mar and travelers who use the trains that run near the cliffs.

But researchers said the exact damage wasn’t “well known” before because the bluffs were previously only surveyed once or twice a year. Now, officials are examining the region every few days.

“Typically, when policymakers look at erosion rates, they look at long-term averages, and the cliff doesn't always erode in a long-term average. What can happen is you can get a big chunk that comes off at once and those sort of numbers aren't well known,” said Adam Young with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Young referenced an instance when researchers found a bluff that eroded 10 to 15 feet in one winter, but the long-term rate showed just a few inches per year.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography is now creating 3D images of the Del Mar bluffs to have a better understanding of where, when, and why the erosion occurs.

Researchers are providing their collected data with city and state agencies in an effort to make informed decisions about future safety measures in the area.

“Are we going to harden our shoreline with seawalls or are we going to start to move things off the coast? Or are we going to spend the money to replenish our beaches and stop the waves from eroding the bottom of the cliffs?” Young told NBC 7.

With recent coastal bluff collapses in Del Mar, many are wondering how safe the area is and what its future could look like. NBC 7's Audra Stafford has more.

A sign is posted at the end of Tenth Street that warns beachgoers about the unstable cliffs.

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