Famous Marin rock arch crumbles into the ocean


Last week brought a new year, but it also brought a new look for Marin’s Tennessee Valley Beach. The beach’s famous rock arch formed over Tennessee Cove met the fate of time when it crumbled into the ocean on Dec. 29.

The geological feature had been entertaining people for years as visitors framed shots to show the sun shining through the hole of the arch. And after withstanding Mother Nature for years, within a matter of minutes the rock arch crashed into the ocean.

Cal Tech graduate student, Robert Wills, was on the beach that day and managed to capture a startling series of photos showing the arch breaking off and falling into the water below. Wills told Marin IJ:

“When we got to the beach, we noticed a few rocks tumbling down. I pointed my camera toward the arch thinking some more rocks might come down. The next thing I knew there was a flow of debris.”

Engineering geologist Chris Wills, Robert’s father, serendipitously was present when the arch broke off. He believes the arch had been created when a weaker rock had broken away from the cliff over the years. After enduring years of the pounding surf and recent Bay Area storms, the arch followed suit and collapsed into the ocean.

While many of the rocks and debris was swept away by waves, as of yesterday the water was still a murky brown color and some rubble remained on the beach.

Even well-known author Anne Lamott of Fairfax had something to say of the arch’s disappearance:

“It’s kind of something that can’t be, yet there it is. I have been seeing the arch for almost 50 years. It’s like someone came down and erased it with a big eraser. So many people will come out and wonder what has changed. It was beautiful before and now it’s beautiful in a different way.”

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