Beach erosion threatens Minoan beaches: A case study of coastal retreat in Crete

Spyros Foteinis, Costas E. Synolakis

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While shoreline retreat is a well recognized threat to European beaches, in Greece it remains largely unappreciated. This study reports possibly the first ever semiquantitative observations of shoreline retreat in Greece, at Lasithi Prefecture, Crete. To assess the current situation, 200 km of coastline were surveyed. Twenty-five locales were identified as vulnerable or actively eroding. In the analysis, historic aerial photos from the 1960s, newer satellite imagery, and field survey measurements were used. The analysis suggests that, in the last 50 years, shoreline retreat in this region has ranged up to 0.5 m/yr, and overall it appears it has amplified during the last two decades. Examples are provided that suggest the main causes are unplanned urbanization, sand mining directly from the beaches and riverbeds, poor design of coastal structures and coastal roads, and extensive and unplanned armoring of the coastline to control erosion. The underlying problem is the complete lack of any semblance of coastal zone management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
JournalShore and Beach
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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