Ivan Left its Mark

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A U.S. Geological Survey oceanographer says the findings of a study on damage by Hurricane Ivan underscore how vulnerable the American coastline is to hurricanes.

Ivan, which first appeared on a collision course with the Mississippi Gulf Coast, turned east and made landfall early Sept. 16, 2004, at Gulf Shores, Ala., with 115 mile-per-hour winds. Storm surge was estimated at between 10 and 13 feet.

Ivan's waves eroded as much as 164 feet of beach in places, according to Abby Sallenger, an oceanographer for the Geological Survey's Center for Coastal Studies in St. Petersburg, Fla.

He presented his findings at the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans on Friday.

The Geological Survey, NASA and NOAA are tracking the damage hurricanes do to the coastline in terms of land and sand loss.

The Geological Survey plans to issue erosion predictions in the future to give people living on the coast a sense for what sections of beach are most at risk of being breached by the ocean and washed away.