Sand Mining in California's Central Coast Region

From CCoWS Wiki
Revision as of 19:58, 5 April 2016 by Kristenh (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search

This page gives a short history of sand mining in California's Central Coast Region and highlights the CEMEX Lapis Plant. The page does not discuss gravel mining that occurs inland.

This page was created as part of the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.


Southern Monterey Bay in the Central coast of California was the most intensively mined shoreline in the United States from 1906-1990. [1] The majority of sand mines were closed in 1990 due to assumptions that mining increased coastal erosion. One sand mine, the CEMEX plant, continues to mine for sand today.[1] The CEMEX Lapis Plant is currently under scrutinity for possibly violating a permit. The sand mining market in the United States is slightly over a billion dollars per year. [2]


The only sand mining plant currently operating in California's Central Coast region, and the United States, is located in the City of Marina, Monterey County, California. The CEMEX Lapis Plant is located eight miles north of Monterey, California along Highway 1. [3] The City of Marina is located in the Lower Salinas River Watershed.

Resources at stake

Sand is a valuable resource that is used in cement to build houses, roads, ... to make glass and omputer chips [4]

  • Coastal Land
  • Dune Habitat
  • Existing Coastal Development (hotels, condos, etc.)
  • Snowy Plover Habitat

The general argument is that mining threatens sand deposits on beaches.


Laws, policies, & regulations

  • Local Coastal Program Business Permit that CEMEX needs from the City of Marina
  • Coastal Development Permit
  • California Coastal Act

CEMEX does not currently have a Coastal Development Permit.[6] The plant is able to operate solely through the Local Coastal Program from the City of Marina.[6] Since CEMEX Lapis Plant has been in operation before the Calfornia Coastal Act, the plant has been "grandfathered-in".[6] Nonprofits such as The Surfrider Foundation and Save Our Shores are calling for the Coastal Commission to review the permit.[6]


Sand mining creates large pits and fissures in the earth's surface. Sand mining can extend so deeply that it could affect ground water, springs, underground wells, and the water table. [7]


...What scientific studies are or would be relevant / already completed?...

Sediment distribution and transport along a rocky, embayed coast: Monterey Peninsula and Carmel Bay, California [8]

Sand Mining Impacts on Long-term Dune Erosion in Southern Monterey Bay [1]


  • ArcGIS and the Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) toolbox can be used to monitor changes in beach width.

Future research

...What knowledge gaps remain?...

...Suggest a CWSP MS thesis topic that could contribute to the issue...

...Suggest a topic for a hypothetical study that had unlimited resources...

CEMEX In The News


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Thornton et al. 2006. Sand Mining Impacts on Long-term Dune Erosion in Southern Monterey Bay. Marine Geology 229.1:45-58.
  2. Wikipedia page on sand mining
  3. CEMEX Lapis Plant
  4. Sand Wars Movie Website
  5. CEMEX Website About Us Page
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Website Page Save Our Shores
  7. Environmental Impacts
  8. Storlazzi, CD and Field, ME. 2000. Sediment distribution and transport along a rocky, embayed coast: Monterey Peninsula and Carmel Bay, California. Marine Geology 170.3: 289-316.]


Coastal Retreat in California's Central Coast Region


This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessary reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.