Block Island Beach Profiles

The Block Island Beach Profile Project

Four beach profiles (BI-CN, BI-WB, BI-CB and BI-SB) were initiated on Block Island in June 2013 by myself and two Eastern Connecticut State University students (Samantha Boyle and Mike Manzi).  Three additional profiles (BI-CR, BI-CH and BI-WP) were added later in the summer of 2013.  These profiles were initiated to help understand the short-term response of the Block Island shoreline to storms (hurricanes and extra-tropical cyclones), with a long-term goal to develop a decadal scale record of shoreline change of the Block Island shoreline.  Profile locations were chosen specifically to examine shoreline change at various locations around Block Island, including two areas identified as part of the Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan as ‘at risk’ (Corn Neck Road and West Beach). 

This endeavor would not be possible without four outstanding volunteers, who collect profiles once a month, year round at spring low tides.  Profiles are collected using the modified Emery method (Emery 1960), following the protocols developed by Jon Boothroyd, University of Rhode Island Department of Geosciences and Rhode Island State Geologist.



Eastern students Samantha Boyle and Mike Manzi collecting the initial profile at BI-CN, June 2013

Back stake locations for Block Island profiles. BI-MB – Mansion Beach;BI-SB – Scotch Beach, BI-CB – Crescent Beach, BI-CN – Corn Neck Road, BI-CR, Cooneymus Road, BI-CH – Charleston Beach, BI-WB – West Beach, BI-WP – Wash Pond. 2012 Eelgrass mapping task force orthophotograph base map.

Block Island residents Nigel Grindley and Judy Gray measuring profile BI-CR

Block Island residents Judy Gray, Nigel Grindley and Cathy Joyce measuring profile BI-CR, supervised by Scott Rasmussen, URI Geosciences and Rhode Island Geological Survey. (Not pictured, Jules Craynock)

Plotted profile BI-CN, measured in September and October 2013. This profile spans the portion of Corn Neck Road that was damaged during Sandy. The portion of the profile in red represents minor erosion of the berm between September and October 2013.

An eighth profile (BI-MB) was initiated in 2007 by David Vanko of Towson University near his family’s property, and was being measured annually in May and August.  This profile will now be monitored by volunteers monthly, with Vanko continuing to measure the profile in May and August. Volunteer based profiles allow the collection of data year-round at a relatively remote location, and have been utilized in other parts of New England (Hill et al., 2002).

Profile BI-MB measured 20 October 2013 (yellow) plotted against the profile measured on 30 May 2007 (red) by David Vanko, Towson University. Note the significant erosion of the foredune that occurred during Sandy.


Volume of profile BI-MB – May 2007 – November 2016 with inferred backshore reservoir volume.


Plotted Beach Profiles can be downloaded here:


The Mansion Beach profiles (BI-MB) collected by Dave Vanko, Towson University (May 2007 – August 2013), have been compiled and plotted.  The entire BI-MB record can be downloaded here:

Mansion beach Plotted Profiles