Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Prince William County is situated along the Potomac River (Figure 1). Through time, the County’s shoreline has evolved, and determining the rates and patterns of shore change provides the basis to know how a particular coast has changed through time and how it might proceed in the future. Along Chesapeake Bay’s estuarine shores, 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 Prince William 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 rivers and larger creeks in Prince William County will be quantified in this report. The shorelines of very irregular coasts, small creeks around inlets, and other complicated areas will be shown but not quantified.
Shoreline Evolution, Shoreline Management, GIS, Aerial Photography, Virginia
This project was funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Department of Environmental Quality through Grant #NA10NOS4190205 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., Hardaway, C., & Cox, M. C. (2012) Shoreline Evolution: Prince William County, Virginia Potomac River, Occoquan Bay, and Occoquan River Shorelines. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary. https://doi.org/10.21220/V5FB17