The traditional way of measuring sand levels is called a 'beach profile'. A beach profile is one of the methods used to measure dune, beach and offshore sand levels. Profile measurements are taken from a permanent starting point and run along a cross-section of the coast over sand dunes, the active beach zone and continue offshore. Some profile lines extend 5 or even 10 kilometres out to sea.
A network of beach profiles has been established along the South Australian coast at places where beach erosion has been identified as a possible threat to public property and development. The profile lines are regularly surveyed and evaluated for short and long-term changes in sand levels or changes in cliffs.
In addition, brass rods have been installed in the seabed along the Adelaide coast and are used to measure depth changes from sand movements. Seabed deepening is a particular issue along the Adelaide coast caused by the loss of seagrass.
A surface modelling technique can also be employed along the coast to map and measure large sand movements from replenishment projects or erosion. This technique involves measuring the study area in a grid pattern and then using surface modelling software to create a map of the beach and sea floor surface. When models surveyed at different times are different, the changes can be mapped and volumes differences or changes calculated.
Where cliff erosion is an issue, a row of spikes located behind a cliff top at set distances are used to measure the cliff top offset. Over time, cliff top erosion rates can be determined by this method.