The US Geological Survey is systematically analyzing historical shoreline changes along open-ocean sandy shores of the United States. This National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project is developing standard repeatable methods for mapping and analyzing shoreline movement so that internally consistent updates can periodically be made to record coastal erosion and land loss along US shores. Recently, shoreline change maps and a report were published for states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Long-term and short-term average rates of change were calculated by comparing three historical shorelines (1800s, 1930s, 1970s) with an operational mean high water shoreline derived from lidar (light detection and ranging) surveys (post-1998). The rates of change, statistical uncertainties, original shorelines, and complementary geographic information system layers, such as areas of beach nourishment, are available on an Internet Map Server (IMS).
For the Gulf of Mexico region, rates of erosion are generally highest in Louisiana along barrier island and headland shores associated with the Mississippi delta. Erosion also is rapid along some barrier islands and headlands in Texas, whereas barrier islands in Mississippi are migrating laterally. Highest rates of erosion in Florida are generally localized around tidal inlets. The most stable Gulf beaches generally are along the west coast of Florida, where low wave energy and frequent beach nourishment minimize erosion. Some long beach segments in Texas have accreted as a result of net longshore drift convergence and around tidal inlets that have been stabilized by long jetties. Individuals and some communities have attempted to mitigate the effects of erosion by emplacement of coastal structures, but those efforts largely have been abandoned in favor of periodic beach nourishment.