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Federici, P.R., Rodolfi, G.: Rapid shoreline retreat along the Esmeraldas coast, Ecuador: natural and man-induced processes. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 7: 163-170, 2001.


Abstract. Along the coast facing the Pacific Ocean in the province of Esmeraldas (Ecuador) one can observe some stretches where a process of rapid erosion is currently in progress. If it is not prevented, it seriously risks compromising the development of any form of utilization. In this paper, which summarizes the observations carried out in three different periods (1989, 1992 and 1999), we express the opinion that this process is the product of two distinct main causes. Along the Atacames bay, which may be considered as the main seaside resort of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, progressive cliff retreat is not only very dangerous for the existing tourist settlements, but also hinders their further development. The shoreline dynamics that seems to be due only to ‘natural’ causes (sea level rising, or the last El Niño event) are so active that defence works are not recommended. At Camarones the erosion of the coast is clearly due to the systematic destruction of mangroves by man. Also as a result of the last El Niño event, the situation has become alarming and it could rapidly get worse. By means of the present contribution, the Authors intend to attract the attention of the international scientific community upon the processes, not surveyed so far, affecting the ‘weakest’ stretches of the Ecuadorian coast.

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