Saturday, February 04, 2006

Mad River weirdness

Today I went down to the banks of the Mad River to photograph a breach – a place where the river has broken through the sand spit and entered the ocean. The breach is located about half a mile south (upstream) of the river's mouth.

The breach is big enough that some small waves were washing across it and entering the river. This is of concern because there's a growing erosion problem which is threatening homes and property. A direct assault by ocean waves will only make matters worse.

I was taking photos and shooting some low-quality video when something strange happened. The river was flowing steadily north (downstream), as would be expected, when suddenly it reversed direction and a wave carried a torrent of water upriver! The Mad River was flowing upstream, at least at my location in the lower estuary.

It sounds crazy, but I've got the video the prove it. It could have been caused by a variety of factors. First, there are huge river flows due to the non-stop rain. Second, the tide was on the rise. Third, there's a heavy ocean surf.

Most importantly, though, is the possibility that the river dynamics are changing and a new mouth is being formed. If this is true, it's important to note that I was standing upstream from the current mouth and slightly downstream from the recent breach.

This is just a theory, but maybe the river was flowing backwards because it's in a state of flux. There are forces pushing the river out at its old mouth, but other forces pushing the river to exit upstream at the breach. The result is that the river flows are moving back and forth along this particular stretch. Maybe ocean waves slammed into the mouth, and rather than being met with resistance, the river responded by saying "No problem. I'll just backup and release my energy upstream at the breach, where there's much less resistance."

The river mouth has migrated before, so this is not without precedent.


Blogger Sactobro mil said...

Fascinating info, Jack. Exciting, to witness such an act of nature as a probable shift to a new mouth of the Mad river. But how maddening not to know, just yet, that it was not merely the high tide causing the water to flow back into its river bad. I shall be watching this blog with greatest interest.

Sactobro mil

2:08 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Someone pointed out that it could be simply the high tide rolling in. If that's the case, then what I saw was nothing special – just regular tidal forces. We'll see!

2:50 PM  
Blogger geobell said...

Jack, you posted a video on Smugglers showing the new mouth. Can it also be posted here? I have a selfish reason - I haven't been able to get on Smugglers via internet & am too impatient to download the mov file via dial-up modem. Hey, I'm paying thru the news for cable...

Thanks, George

9:49 AM  
Blogger geobell said...

Actually, I'm paying thru the NOSE, not "news"....

9:51 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Sorry. I don't know how to do that. If it's possible, and someone knows the directions, post them here and I'll do my best.

6:14 PM  

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