Coastal erosion vs man-made protective structures: evaluating a two-decade history from southeastern India


Remote sensing images of AD 1991–2011 and field observations help evaluate shoreline changes (erosion and accretion) in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu states of southeastern India. A minor harbor was constructed during AD 1986–1989 in the coast of Puducherry, and it initiated the gradual process of shoreline modification. In the subsequent years, beaches located toward the north of the harbor suffered erosion (−0.12–−4.19 m/year) and there was accretion (0.27–7.25 m/year) in the southern beaches. However, the man-made structures (seawall and groin) have reduced the shoreline changes after AD 2004. In the last two decades, the rate of erosion area-wise gradually decreased (0.24–0.013 km2/year) and accretion remained constant (0.019 km2/year). Our results suggest that accretion happened in the southern side of the breakwaters and erosion occurred in the northern part. Presence of groins structures in the region in the northern part has also provoked accretion in the south and erosion in the northern side close to the State of Tamil Nadu.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Aurofilio A (2002) The disappearing beach dilemma. In: Auroville today.

  2. Boak EH, Turner IL (2005) Shoreline definition and detection: a review. J Coast Res 2(4):688–703

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. De Solan B, Muthusankar G, Lo Seen D, Thierry B, Raman AV (2001) GIS, multidate and multisource data for determining shoreline changes: a case for Gautami Godavari delta, east coast of India. ISRS 2001 symposium, Ahmadabad, 11–13 Dec

  4. Hong-Yeon CHO, Lakshumanan C, Usha-Natesan (2004) Coastal wetland and shoreline change mapping of Pichavaram, south east coast of India using Satellite data.

  5. Jiménez JA, Gracia V, Valdermoro HI, Mendoza ET, Sánchez-Arcilla A (2011) Managing erosion-induced problems in NW Mediterranean urban beaches. Ocean Coast Manag 54:907–918

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Lakshmi A, Schiavina A, Banerjee P, Reddy A, Mandeen S, Rodriguez S, Apte D (2012) The challenged coast of India. A report. BNHS, NCPC, PondyCAN and TISS, p 233

  7. Mitchell A (1999) The ESRI guide to GIS analysis, volume 1: geographic patterns and relationships. ESRI, Redlands

    Google Scholar 

  8. Nayak S, Bahuguna A, Shaikh MG, Rao RS (1991) Manual for mapping of coastal wetlands, landfonns and shoreline changes using satellite data. Technical Note. IRSUP/SAC/MCE/TN/32/91:63

  9. Neelamani S, Sundaravadivelu R (2006) Erosion, protection of Pondicherry coast, southeast India. J Coast Res Spl Issue 39:880–883

    Google Scholar 

  10. Ramesh R, Nammalwar P, Gowri VS (2008) Data base on coastal information of Tamil Nadu. Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Report, Chennai

  11. Ramesh R, Purvaja R, Senthilvel A (2011) National assessment of shoreline change: puducherry coast. NCSCM/MoEF Rep 01:57

    Google Scholar 

  12. Rao EP, Nair MM, Raju DV (1984) Assessment of the role of remote sensing techniques in monitoring shoreline changes: a case study of Kerala coast. Int J Remote Sens 6(34):549–558

    Google Scholar 

  13. Schoonees JS, Theron AK, Bevis D (2006) Shoreline accretion and sand transport at groynes inside the Port of Richard Bay. Coast Eng 53:1045–1058

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Sreekala SE, Baba M, Muralikrishna M (1998) Shoreline changes of Kerala coast using IRS data and aerial photographs. Ind J Mar Sci 27:144–148

    Google Scholar 

  15. The Hindu (2002) Dredging in full swing to reclaim stretch of Pondy beach.

  16. The Hindu (2004) Steps to protect coastal areas from sea erosion.

  17. The Hindu (2009) Fishermen hit as coastal villages face sea erosion threat.

  18. The Hindu (2010a) Coastal villages in Puducherry grapple with sea erosion.

  19. The Hindu (2010b) Puducherry residents concerned about sea erosion.

  20. The Hindu (2011) Coastal erosion tops list of environmental issues in Puducherry.

  21. The Hindu (2013a) Rubble mounds sea wall, groynes coming up.

  22. The Hindu (2013b) Plea to stop building seawall, groynes.

  23. Thieler ER, Himmelstoss EA, Zichichi JL, Ergul A (2009) Digital shoreline analysis system (DSAS) version 4.3—an Arc GIS extension for calculating shoreline change: US geological survey open file report, 2008-1278

  24. van Rijn LC (2011) Coastal erosion and control. Ocean Coast Manag 54:867–887

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


GM wishes to thank French Institute of Pondicherry for their help in diverse ways. MPJ wishes to express thanks SNI, CONACyT, EDI and COFAA (IPN Mexico). PDR acknowledges the support from CTIC-UNAM, Mexico. This article is the 83rd contribution from Earth System Science Group (ESSG), Chennai, India.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. P. Jonathan.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Muthusankar, G., Jonathan, M.P., Lakshumanan, C. et al. Coastal erosion vs man-made protective structures: evaluating a two-decade history from southeastern India. Nat Hazards 85, 637–647 (2017).

Download citation


  • Erosion
  • Accretion
  • Shoreline changes
  • GIS
  • Seawall
  • Puducherry
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Southeast coast of India