Along a Tidal River
The tidal shore of the Gaspésie Peninsula is a landscape of risk. Risk arises from the dynamic interaction between inundation and erosion, processes of shoreline evolution that create vulnerability. Residents recognize and understand the change, even if they are not equipped to evaluate, chart, or publish feasibility studies. Risk is understood between neighbors as sea-levels rise more progressively, intensifying tides and susceptibility. The common future of all residential shoreline communities is more precarious, as millions of global residents will move or be forced to relocate in the coming decades.
1Delaying the move is a deeply ingrained form of climate-denial that is hard to appreciate on the surface. Because of this, I am interested in excavating the denial by highlighting a community in Gaspésie that is so sensitive to the changes in their environment that they are finding creative ways to honor the landscape. The communities along the Gaspésie are familiar with the shore because its liveliness is shared through multi-generational attention that builds a rapport, moving the dial from inhabiting a landscape of risk to appreciating a landscape of retreat.
See Mathew E. Hauer, “Migration induced by sea-level rise could reshape the US population landscape,” Nature Climate Change 7.5 (2017): 321–325, and Scott A. Kulp and Benjamin H. Strauss, “New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding,” Nature Communications 10.1 (2019): 4844.
The St. Lawrence River, “or Big Waterway,” is projected to be free of winter sea ice by the end of this century. The Big Waterway conveys a huge volume of water to the ocean. But water is not the only thing being shed. The capacity of the river suspends dissolved salts, rock fragments, sand, pebbles, and other washes dissolved from land to water. From this perspective, the river is an agent of discharge that uses water to flush aquifers of their discharge. Reduced sea ice cover will result in longer open water fetches and increased wave heights and storm surges during winter. More prolonged open water seasons will also result in increased exposure of shorelines to wave action and extreme water levels, increasing erosive forces notwithstanding the lack of ice cover.
A rupture twenty-five kilometers deep beneath the Nazca plate, produced the earthquake, triggering a tsunami that traveled along the fault at tectonic junctions. The magnitudinous waves spread beneath the coast until making landfall along the shores between Constitución and Concepción. Magnitude is relative power, and its measurement takes into account the energy released at the source. By comparison, intensity is the strength of the shaking produced by the magnitude.