Reducing sea cliffs hazard in pocket beaches through beach nourishment

  • Sebastião Braz Teixeira Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente


Tourism based on "sun and beach" is the main economic activity in the Algarve region. A considerable part of the beaches of the Barlavento coast corresponds to embedded sand accumulated along the irregular lacework-like coastline of rocky cliffs cut into Miocene calcarenites. The pattern of touristic occupation in the Algarve and the geodynamics of the rocky sea cliffs, characterized by discontinuous and intermittent occurrence of slope mass movements, result in a high level of risk to beach users along pocket beaches. In order to mitigate the risk associated with the cliff geodynamics, artificial beach nourishment was performed in Castelo and Coelha pocket beaches on the Barlavento Coast, in 2014, increasing the beach area by 3.5 times. The effects of the beach nourishment on the occupation patterns of those beaches along the 2006-2016 decade, before and after the beach nourishment, are herein presented and discussed. Occupancy data were obtained covering different seasons along the year, by counting the number of beach users, regardless of age, using periodic and systematic photographs taken at strategic points that provide full coverage of the beach areas. Before the beach nourishments the area of dry sand outside high and moderate hazard zones, measured at half-tide under average summer wave conditions was 500 m2 at Coelha beach and 800 m2 at Castelo beach. After beach nourishment the same area increased to 6700 m2 at Coelha beach and 7100m2 at Castelo beach. Results show that, following the beach fill, beach occupation by recreational users naturally shifted seaward, moving out from the cliff hazard areas. After the intervention, the occupation of high and moderate hazard areas reduced significantly, from 37% to 11% in Castelo beach and from 59% to 27% in Coelha beach.
How to Cite
TEIXEIRA, Sebastião Braz. Reducing sea cliffs hazard in pocket beaches through beach nourishment. Journal of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, [S.l.], v. 21, n. 4, p. 215-226, jan. 2022. ISSN 1646-8872. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 may 2022.
Research Articles