The Romanian Black Sea Coast is well known for its
fine soft sand and safe gently sloping beaches. The
water of the Black Sea has a low salinity in comparison
with other inland seas (only 17%). There is a virtual
absence of tides and currents, indeed on most days during
the summer the sea is calm. The medium latitude and
the low altitude are favorable to a dry climate and
determine a long season, lasting from May to October.
The eastern exposure of the coast provides for spectacular
sunrises and maximum luminosity, amounting to over 14
hours a day at the height of summer. Mamaia is particularly
suitable for families because of its safe 8 km beach,
fringed by wild pear trees and renowned for its fine
MAMAIA: According to legend, the gods created
Mamaia to reunite a kidnapped princess with her daughter
who was trapped on the shore crying Mamaia! Mamaia!
It is the oldest of all Romanian Black Sea resorts.
It was developed in 1906, on a narrow spit of land between
Siutghiol Lake (one of the largest fresh water lakes
in Romania) and the Black Sea, just 5 km north of Constanta.
The resort blossomed after 1919, with the establishment
of a casino and opulent villas and it became a summer
residence of King Ferdinand.
Mamaia Beach has the highest concentration of tourism
activities and has been experiencing severe erosion.
Hydrotechnical works built on the Danube and its tributaries
have resulted in a serious decrease of Danube sediment
load, imposing negative consequences on the littoral
sediment balance. In addition, hydrotehnical and harbour
works intercepted the longshore drift which meant a
decrease of the littoral sediments and caused acute
erosion especially on Mamaia beach. Different types
of hydrotehnical protection works have been built in
the southern part of the coast which was most affected
by the erosion.
Erosion affecting the Mamaia beach
Coastal erosion is a particular problem at Mamaia,
due to the Midia harbour extension dike (5 Km long)
which acts as a barrier to longshore currents running
from north to south. This dike is deflecting the longshore
sediments drifting offshore to the south-east and thus
Mamaia beach was transformed in a bay, almost totally
lacking natural sediment supply. There was a general
decrease of the sediment supply in the littoral zone
after damning the Danube river which also added to the
In winter of 1988, the southern part of the beach was
severely destroyed by erosion. The coastline retreated
to 59 m, between 1966 and 1988 and 88900 sq m of the
beach surface eroded. Urgent protection measures were
required (6 longshore breakwaters and an artificial
nourishment) for Mamaia beach. After the implementation
of coastal protection the shoreline retreated to only
35 m and in a small area. Accumulation was registered
with maximum value of 15 m between 1978 and 1995.
The southern part of Mamaia Beach
a) in 1961 before the Midia harbour construction
b) in 1986 - after that
Effects of coastal protection
Beach nourishment is increasingly being used as a more
acceptable 'soft' management option as opposed to the
'harder' engineered breakwaters and groins.
The advantages of beach nourishment as a management
option include the positive aesthetic results
which often enhance recreational value and the minimal
probability of causing down-drift erosion. Beach nourishment
at Mamaia was applied to re-charge the eroded beach
with appropriate sand material, but unfortunately the
sand material that was used turned out to be very fine
and it was not possible to obtain an exact match. Basic
guidelines include the principle that the material used
for replenishment must correspond in form and size to
the local beach material. In the case of Mamaia beach
this element was neglected. Another important and elementary
principle which was overlooked is that extremes should
be avoided because when the beach material is too fine
(e. g. sand from Siutghiol Lake) this results in local
turbidity and water retention problems. The results
were enhanced erosion rates which were higher than normal
for this sort of environment.
The effects of the breakwaters are moderately positive,
dissipating the energy of incoming waves and reducing
the wave force. As a consequence, the southern part
of Mamaia beach is partially protected against erosion,
but only the parts in shadow of the breakwaters which
allow the beach to restore. The underwater profiles
in the shallow water of the protected area of Mamaia
beach reveals the modification of the isobaths (-1 up
to - 4) position seaward at the back of the breakwaters.
Negative aspects of the breakwaters
could be mentioned:
- Anaesthetic view of the detached breakwaters;
- Breakwaters extremities fall down due to erosion
- Changes in current direction induce beach erosion
- Erosion process extended in the unprotected beach
- Changes of current regime;
- Important changes in beach profile;
- Decrease the sediment transport;
- Bathing water quality in summer season;
- Migration of the tetrapods from the breakwaters.
A potential risk of coastal erosion
The erosion risk exists in Mamaia beach because it
is a narrow sand bar which is exposed to hydrodynamic
forces and lacks sediment supply. Coastal protection
measures have been carried out during the communism
regime when Mamaia was severly affected by erosion.
The infrastructure and the touristic activities were
damaged. A large part of the beach disappeared and so
did the promenade. If the erosion process continues
and no proper action to protect the beaches is taken.
There is a potential risk for the beach and the resort
to be damaged in case of an eventual strong storm in
Mamaia resort has the largest tourism capacity along
the Romanian Black Sea Coast, representing 26 474 beds
in 61 hotels (1 to 5 stars), 14 villas and 3 camps in
2002. It is situated between Siutghiol Lake and the
Black Sea north of Constanta is linked with it. It was
founded in 1906 when the first balneal building was
built. After 1919 a Casino and residential villas of
Ferdinand King were built. In the second stage at the
beginning of sixties the first hotels have been built.
The new resort became famous in the southern east part
of the Europe because of the fine sandy beach.
For all the seaside resorts
from the southern part of the Romanian coast including
Consequences of the beach erosion
Mamaias beach surface calculated on a shore length
of 1.5 km has diminished around 65% between 1966 and
1988. With a figure of 4 sq.m of beach area per tourist.
This amount of beach loss means a total decrease of
tourist capacity of about 11 000 tourists over the next