OS21B-1720: APPARENT SEA LEVEL RISE DUE TO LOADING OF THE ATLANTIC CITY PIER BY SPECTATORS VIEWING (1929-1978) DIVING HORSES

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Authors: Cyril Galvin

Author Institutions: Coastal Engineer, Springfield, VA, USA

Cyril Galvin, Coastal Engineer Springfield, Virginia 22150 USA Since 1911, the Steel Pier at Atlantic City, New Jersey, has been the site of the Atlantic City tide gauge, except for two intervals: 1911-1921 when the gauge was at the Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City, and 1985-1991 when the gauge was at the Ventnor Fishing Pier (see Table 2, Zervos, 2009). By design, the Steel Pier was an amusement pier, and its most famous amusement was the Diving Horses: they dove bareback with a woman rider from a platform about 40 feet above sea level. They did that between 1929 and 1978, except for seven years – a post-war period, 1945 to 1953, when diving was suspended. The popularity of the diving horses is recorded on photos of crowds which occupied the bleachers at the seaward end of the pier to view the diving horses. By my count, the crowd pictured in the end papers of the book by Steve Liebowitz (2009) was about 4000 people. Typically, there were multiple shows daily. The weight of the crowd, estimated from the count of the crowd, was about 150 tons. This weight was loaded down on the piles by the crowd of spectators, and unloaded between shows of the diving horses. Most of the piles supporting the pier deck were imbedded in sand newly deposited since 1850. Using Atlantic City sea levels from the PSMSL data base and historical facts from Liebowitz (2009), and beginning with a 1912 start of the tide gauge, the apparent sea level rose at a rate of 3.1mm/yr until 1929 when the horses began diving. With the 1929 start of diving, the apparent sea level rise tripled, averaging 9.4 mm/yr until the act was suspended in 1945. In the 1945-1953 interval, when the horses did not dive (no crowds on the pier), apparent sea level fell (sea level FELL) at a rate of -1.6 mm/yr. The horses resumed diving in 1953, when the apparent sea level resumed at a rate of 4.0mm/yr. This 4.0 mm/yr is identical to the longtime sea level trend (1911-2006) from Zervos (2009) of 3.99mm/yr The history of apparent sea level rise at Steel Pier is consistent with increases caused by loading the pier deck with crowds, and the absence of apparent sea level rise when the pier deck was not loaded by spectators. CG/08Aug 2012

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