Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Fairfax County is situated along the upper reaches of the Potomac River (Figure 1). Because the County’s shoreline is continually changing, determining where the shoreline was in the past, how far and how fast it is moving, and what factors drive shoreline change will help define where the shoreline will be going in the future. These rates and patterns of shore change along Chesapeake Bay’s estuarine shores will differ through time as winds, waves, tides and currents shape and modify coastlines by eroding, transporting and depositing sediments.
The purpose of this report is to document how the shore zone of Fairfax County has evolved since 1937. Aerial imagery was taken for most of the Bay region beginning that year and can be used to assess the geomorphic nature of shore change. Aerial photos show how the coast has changed, how beaches, dunes, bars, and spits have grown or decayed, how barriers have breached, how inlets have changed course, and how one shore type has displaced another or has not changed at all. Shore change is a natural process but, quite often, the impacts of man, through shore hardening or inlet stabilization, come to dominate a given shore reach. In addition to documenting historical shorelines, the change in shore positions along the larger creeks in Fairfax County will be quantified in this report. The shorelines of very irregular coasts, small creeks and around inlets, and other complicated areas will be shown but not quantified.
Shoreline Evolution, Fairfax, Virginia
This project was funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program through Grant # NA13NOS4190135 of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA, or any of its subagencies.
Milligan, D. A., Wilcox, C. A., & Hardaway, C. S. (2014) Shoreline Evolution: Fairfax County, Virginia Potomac River Shoreline. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. https://doi.org/10.21220/V5BH92