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Report on Symposium and Field Meeting on coastal geoindicators
Symposium and Field Meeting in Ustka, Poland, September 26-29, 2000

Jonas Satkunas - COGEOENVIRONMENT Geoindicators Initiative Vilnius, Lithuania
Peter Bobrowsky - International Union of Geological Sciences Victoria BC, Canada

A Symposium and Field Meeting on coastal geoindicators was held recently in Ustka, Poland, organised by the Marine Geology Branch of the Polish Geological Institute (PGI) under the sponsorship of COGEOENVIRONMENT and the Institute for the Earth Sciences and the Environment (IEE, Geological Society of America). This was a direct follow-up to the 1999 Geoindicators workshop in Vilnius.

The meeting attracted 23 participants from Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and the United Kingdom (see List of partcipants). The meeting was held in Ustka, a small coastal town on the Baltic Sea, some 200 km west of Gdansk. Participants were housed in the same hotel where excellent conference facilities, good local cuisine and a picturesque setting contributed to an informative scientific program and positive informal discussions. During the meeting, 21 presentations were given as well as 7 poster presentations: all generated active discussions amongst the participants.

J. Satkunas began the symposium with an introduction to the IUGS Commission on Geological Sciences for Environmental Planning (COGEOENVIRONMENT) and its Geoindicators Initiative. P. Bobrowsky followed with a keynote lecture on the geoindicators concept and Checklist (see The scientific presentations focused on coastal and marine-related geoindicators. The first series of five talks addressed eutrophication, pollution, and water-level changes due to natural and technogenic (human-induced) causes and traced by means of stable isotopes (M. Jedrysek, I. Kolosov et al.). A.Witkowski and colleagues, and H.Piekarek-Jankowska then discussed biological indicators in lacustrine and marine environments. The following five presentations dealt with coastal geoindicators along the Baltic Sea, including sea-level changes (recent and Late-Glacial Holocene), methods of monitoring, and the effect of storms (S.Musielak, K.Rotnicki, J. Satkunas et al, Sz. Uscinowicz, J.Zachowicz). The coastal processes of the Black Sea (Nessebar peninsula) were described by M.Matova in the context of seismotectonics and sea-level change. Comprehensive studies of changes along the of coast of Lake Peipsi in Estonia were reported upon by E.Tavast. Examples of landslides from the Polish Carpathians and Lithuania were discussed by M.Graniczny and V.Marcinkevicius and others, respectively. J.Giedraitiene and colleagues discussed the results of groundwater monitoring and differences in water quality as a function of the type of land use, as well as trends of changes in the Lithuanian-Polish cross-border area.

Other geoindicators were discussed as well: seismicity (A.Pacesa), continental eolian processes (B.Karmaza), human-induced changes in sequences of floodplain deposits (S.Savchik), and methodological aspects of sediment geochemistry (J.Ridgway). A paper on the application of satellite images to tracing landscape changes was given by A. Piatkowska.

A two day field excursion along the Baltic Sea coasts followed to illustrate the comprehensive results of Polish monitoring and coastal management. A number of well illustrated stops included actively eroding cliffs at Poddebie-Debina and Jastrzebia Gora, and accumulation spits at the Gardno-Leba Barrier and the Hel peninsula. Participants observed large cliff landslides resulting from an unique combination of lithology (intercalated beds of clay, fine sand and till), inter-stratal groundwater seepages, and marine erosion niches.

The Gardno-Leba barrier, about 40 km long and 0.6-2 km wide, is covered with dunes attaining heights from few metres up to 56 m asl. Especially impressive are the migrating dunes, which play a significant role in beach nourishment by sand. Observations show that during a moderate storm surge, dune cliff erosion is capable of removing some 60,000 tons of sand along each 1 km stretch of shoreline. However, both coastal abrasion and shore-line retreat are dominant processes.

Intensive coastal processes are characteristic for the Hel peninsula, 36 km long by 0.20-3km wide, where coastal abrasion has predominated since the 1930s. In 1989 an artificial beach nourishment program was started, and as a result net abrasion was reduced. However, the tendency for loss continues. In Wladyslawowo, the concept and practices of coastal protection were presented. These included a set of active features: artificial beach nourishment, restoration of a by-pass system for sediments, rebuilding of sand bar systems, installation of groynes and cliff reenforcement with geomembranes.

The local organising committee was led by Dr. Joanna Zachowicz and Dr. Szymon Uscinowicz (PGI) who, with the help of PGI staff, produced and disseminated a series of circulars, compiled the Symposium materials (abstracts and excursion guide), coordinated excursion and all social events, and contributed to the scientific presentations.

The meeting provided another good opportunity to disseminate and refine the geoindicator approach as well as to highlight the work of IUGS, COGEOENVIRONMENT, and IEE. It was also an excellent venue for strengthening the new GEOIN network ( and for discussion of new initiatives and ideas. The results of a questionnaire given to the participants regarding possible contributions to the GEOIN network will be summarized shortly on the GEOIN website. Perhaps the greatest value of this type of meeting was the forum it provided for top specialists to share their expertise on the Polish coastal zone research and management, knowledge which can be applied elsewhere in the world.

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