The cliff-top parking lot was fenced off and the trail marked “Unstable Cliffs - Active Landslide Area - Stay Back,” but that didn’t stop Adam Young and City of Encinitas officials from carefully traversing the uneven landscape at the Beacon’s Beach switchback trail to get a closer look.
“There are definitely new cracks here,” said Young, a coastal geomorphologist and researcher at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Young studies coastal erosion, overseeing coastline surveys throughout the state of California that use advanced laser imaging technology — called LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging — to create high-resolution maps of cliffs to measure how they are eroding and changing over time.
On May 2, 2022, a landslide at the Leucadia, Calif. beach damaged part of the trail, closing the popular access point. Young and a team of fellow scientists from Scripps Oceanography went into rapid response mode, working with city officials to conduct a LiDAR survey of the landslide and install advanced geophysical instruments to determine if the landslide was still moving.