The Department of Earth and Space Science at Lamar University has produced and mounted for permanent display a detailed, 16-foot-long panoramic photograph of the Bolivar Peninsula showing the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike. Composed of 54 separate aerial photographs taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the image exhibits the upper Texas coast between High Island and Crystal Beach immediately after Ike passed over the peninsula on Sept. 13, 2008.

The panoramic photograph of Bolivar Peninsula is on permanent display on the second floor of the Geology Building at Lamar University. It was produced by Infocus Camera and Imaging and Pinehurst Gallery, both of Orange, who seamlessly spliced together the individual NOAA photographs and printed and mounted the finished image.

“The detail of the coastline seen in the image is amazing”, said Dr. Jim Jordan, Chair of the Earth and Space Science Department at Lamar University.

Objects as small as automobiles washed off of State Highway 87 near High Island are clearly visible. Also seen in the image is the effect the Geotube had on the coastline along the Gilchrist, Rollover Pass, and Caplen areas. The amount of destruction behind the Geotube in these areas is striking as compared to the Crystal Beach community also seen in the photography.

“The narrowed beach seen in photograph from Gilchrist to Caplen clearly denotes the erosional effects of the Geotube, which steepened the offshore profile of the beach after being emplaced a decade ago”, said Richard Ashmore, Instructor of Earth and Space Science.

“This allowed for much larger storm waves to strike the area where the Geotube was located during Ike’s landfall, annihilating these communities and extensively enhancing erosion along this section of the coast”, added Dr. Don Owen, Professor of Earth and Space Science.

Numerous other features, such as debris and sand dispersal indicating the direction the storm surge and waves impacted the coast, and oil spills covering the Bolivar Peninsula from damaged and destroyed storage tanks in the High Island and Caplen oil fields also stand out prominently in the photograph.

Since the landfall of Hurricane Ike, professors at the Department of Earth and Space Science at Lamar University have been collecting data at study localities along the coast from Pelican Island, Louisiana, to Port Bolivar, with special attention being given to the communities along Bolivar Peninsula. Their research includes one of the first scientific publications and field trip noting the effects of Hurricane Ike on the Louisiana and Texas coasts, presented at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Houston three weeks after Ike’s landfall. Numerous other publications, presentations, and field trips discussing and showing Hurricane Ike’s effects have been presented at several professional conferences and meetings, as well as to Lamar University students and local civic and community organizations. Presentations were also made in this past December and January to the Texas State Legislature’s House Select Committee on Hurricane Ike Storm Devastation to the Texas Gulf Coast. Research by the Department of Earth and Space Science of Hurricane Ike’s effects on the Gulf Coast, especially along Bolivar Peninsula, is continuing.