The Cacela Peninsula on the south coast of Portugal was, previous to nourishment operations, extremely vulnerable to overwash events. During the 1995–96 winter, extensive overwashing led to the opening of a new inlet. Simultaneously, the lagoon channel in the backbarrier was silting up with the overwash deposits, inlet flood delta sands, and accretion of fine sediments.
Between October 1996 and February 1997 the channel was dredged, and the sediments were deposited on the western 2,000 meters of the Cacela Peninsula, forming an artificial dune ridge. The sediment characteristics of the dredge spoils were in contrast with the natural dune sand. The spoils had higher silt and clay content, lower mean grain size, and poorer sorting. In January 1998, three washover breaches were infilled, with sand removed from the foreshore, on the eastern part of the Cacela Peninsula. These sands were coarser and more poorly sorted than the original dune sediments.
A 2-year monitoring program, consisting of beach/dune profiling, topographic surveys in specific areas, and sediment analysis, was established to observe the morphological evolution of these areas.
The total eroded volume recorded for the dune nourishment project after 2 years was about 106,500 cubic meters, corresponding to 33% of the total 325,000 cubic meters of sediment that was deposited. The washover infilling showed little or no variation. However, the downdrift beaches and foredunes experienced severe erosion.
Both protective measures accomplished their purposes in terms of preventing erosion; however, a natural landscape was only created where dune development by aeolian processes was possible.