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New Book Explores Forces That Shaped California’s Coast

California's San Andreas Fault seen in this undated photo by USGS.

Credit: USGS

Above: California's San Andreas Fault seen in this undated photo by USGS.

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Cover of book, "Surf, Sand, and Stone: How Waves, Earthquakes and Other Forces Shape the Southern California Coast" by Keith Heyer Meldahl.

Learning about the elements that have shaped geologic environment in Southern California gives people clues to how the landscape is changing now and how it may be vulnerable to an extended drought or strong drought or strong El Niño.

A new book by a Mira Costa College geology professor shows it doesn't take a mega-quake to reshape the geography. Research shows thousands of tiny quakes occur daily,and they provide the deep underground pressures that are constantly moving and changing the earth.

This is just one of the points made by Keith Heyer Meldahl in his book, "Surf, Sand, and Stone: How Waves, Earthquakes, and Other Forces Shape the Southern California Coast.

Meldahl told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday that the rising sea level will change California’s beaches.

Centuries ago a person would’ve had to walk another 100 feet to get to the bluffs of La Jolla Cove, he said.

“The sea has been chopping away the land by a large amount,” Meldahl said. “We throw a bunch of homes and businesses at the edge and cement. We’re only postponing the inevitable.”

He said the sea rose by about seven inches in the last century, and he expects it to rise another two to three feet by 2100.

“We’ve got a problem of shrinking beaches and rising seas,” Meldahl said.

He also warned of the impacts of the coming El Niño.

“The amount of erosion on our beaches is going to be significant again,” he said.

Evening Edition Host Peggy Pico speaks with Keith Heyer Meldahl, author of "Surf, Sand, And Stone: How Waves, Earthquakes, and Other Forces Shape the Southern California Coast," about California's coastal environment.

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