Overview. Beach Features. Coastal Regions. Other Beach Profile Features. CHAPTER 10 The Coast: Beaches and Shoreline Processes.

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1 Overview CHAPTER 10 The Coast: Beaches and Shoreline Processes Coastal regions constantly change. The beach is a dominant coastal feature. Wave activity continually modifies the beach and coastal areas. Waves affect deposition and erosion of sand and subsequent coastal features. Sea level changes affect the coast. Humans have attempted various coastal stabilization measures. General Features Coastal Regions Shore the zone that lies between the low tide line and the highest area on land affected by storm waves Coast extends inland as far as ocean related features are found Coastline boundary between shore and coast Beach Features Beach entire active area of a coast affected by waves. Consists of Shore divided into Backshore above high tide line; covered with water only during storms Nearshore from low tide water line to where waves break at low tide Offshore area beyond low tide breaking waves Other Beach Profile Features Wave-cut bench flat, wave-eroded surface Recreational beach area above the shoreline Berm dry, gently sloping region

2 Other Beach Profile Features Beach face wet, sloping surface between berm and shoreline Longshore bar underwater sand bar parallel to the coast Longshore trough separates longshore bar from the beach Composition of Beaches Formed from locally available material May be coarse or fine grained sediment Boulders from local cliffs Sand from rivers Mud from rivers Significant biologic material on tropical beaches Example, Coral reef material Material is always in transit along the shoreline. Sand Movement Along Beach Two Major Types 1.Perpendicular to shoreline (toward and away) Swash water rushes up the beach Backwash water drains back to the ocean 2.Parallel to shoreline (up-coast or downcoast) Longshore current transports sand along the beach Swash and Backwash Longshore Transport Wintertime Beach Heavy wave activity Backwash dominates Sediment moved away from shore Narrower beach Flattened beach face Longshore bars are present Stormy weather

3 Summertime Beach Light wave activity Wide, sandy berm Steep beach face Swash dominates Longshore bars not present Generally milder storms Longshore Current Parallel motion of water along shoreline Caused by wave refraction Causes zigzag motion of water in surf zone Longshore currents travel at speeds up to 4 km (2.5 miles) per hour Longshore Transport Also called longshore drift, beach drift, or littoral drift Only occurs in the shallow water surf zone Transports beach sediment in a zigzag fashion in the direction of the longshore current Beaches sometimes called rivers of sand Longshore Transport Millions of tons of sediment moved yearly Direction of transport changes due to wave approach In general, net sediment movement is southward along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States Two Major Types of Shores Erosional Shores Well-developed cliffs Exist where tectonic uplift of coast occurs U.S. Pacific coast is one example Depositional Shores Gradually subsiding shore Barrier islands and sand deposits are common

4 Erosional Shores Protruding bits of land called headlands absorb much wave energy. Wave cut cliffs and sea caves are other features carved out by wave activity. Sea arches form where sea caves in headlands erode all the way through. Sea stacks form when the tops of sea arches erode away completely. Bedrock uplift generates a marine terrace. Erosional Shores Wave erosion increases with More shore exposed to open ocean Smaller tidal range Weaker bedrock Erosional Shorelines Depositional Shorelines A bay barrier, or bay mouth bar, seals off a lagoon from the ocean. A Tombolo is an sand bar that connects an island to the mainland. Barrier islands are long offshore sand deposits that parallel the coast. A spit connects at one end to the mainland and hooks into a bay at the other. Depositional Shorelines Depositional Shorelines Tombolo Barrier island

5 Barrier Islands Common along East and Gulf coasts of the United States Do not exist along erosional shorelines Protect mainland from high wave activity Can migrate landward over time Barrier Island Anatomy Ocean beach Dunes Barrier flat High salt marsh Low salt marsh Lagoon Barrier Island Ocean Beach closest part of the island to the ocean Dune stabilized by grasses; protect lagoon from strong storms Barrier flat grassy area that forms behind dunes Barrier Island High and low salt marshes biologically productive wetlands Generate peat deposits of decaying organic matter Lagoon water between barrier island and mainland Migrate landward over time due to rising sea levels Older peat deposits found on ocean beach Barrier Islands Deltas Triangular deposits of sediment where rivers empty into oceans or seas Distributaries carry sediment to ocean

6 Beach Compartments Beach Compartments (Continued) Three major components: 1. Rivers that supply beach sediment 2. Beach itself 3. Offshore submarine canyons Beach starvation human activities block supply of sand to beach compartments. Emerging Shorelines Shorelines above current sea level Marine terraces flat platforms backed by cliffs Submerging Shorelines Shoreline below current sea level Features include Drowned beaches Submerged dune topography Drowned river valleys (estuaries) Changing Sea Level Two major processes can change sea level: Local tectonic processes Global (eustatic) changes in sea level Changing Sea Level Local tectonic processes Example: the Pacific coast of the United States is currently being uplifted. Isostatic adjustments rebound of Earth s crust after removal of heavy loads or sinking with application of heavy loads Ice-loading from glaciers during ice ages

7 Changing Sea Level Global (eustatic) changes in sea level Sea level changes worldwide due to Change in amount of available sea water Change in ocean basin capacity Eustatic Changes in Sea Level Some Mechanisms Ice ages lock seawater up in ice (glaciation) sea level goes down Ice melting after an ice age (deglaciation) sea level rises Eustatic Changes in Sea Level Also caused by thermal expansion and contraction of seawater Physical property of water: warmer water expands and cooler water contracts. Sea level rises and falls in response to seawater temperature. This is roughly 2 meters (6.6 feet) per 1 C (1.8 F) change in temperature. Pleistocene Epoch and Today From about 2 million to 10,000 years ago, a series of four ice ages affected Earth. Sea level was at least 120 meters (400 feet) below today s sea level. If all remaining ice on Earth melted today, sea level would rise another 70 meters (230 feet). Global Warming and Changing Sea Level Globally averaged temperatures about 0.6 C (1.1 F) warmer over last 130 years Sea level rose cm (4-10 in) over past 100 years As global warming continues, we will see a higher sea level.

8 Atlantic coast Pacific coast Gulf coast United States Coasts Atlantic Coast Most coasts open to storm wave attack Barrier islands common from Massachusetts south Bedrock Florida bedrock is resistant limestone. Northward through New Jersey is comprised of easily erodable recent deposits. New York through Maine has glacier-affected rocks. Atlantic Coast Strong storms called nor easters can damage the coast north of Cape Hatteras, NC. Nor easters can generate storm waves up to 6 meters (20 feet). Atlantic Coast Drowned river valleys common Average erosion is 0.8 meter (2.6 feet) per year; sea is migrating landward Delaware, New York, and Georgia have the most serious erosion problem. Atlantic Coast Barrier islands Drowned river valleys Gulf Coast Low tidal range Generally low wave energy Tectonically subsiding Mississippi delta dominates Locally sea level rises due to compaction of delta sediments Average rate of erosion is 1.8 meters (6 feet) per year

9 Pacific Coast Tectonically rising Experiencing less erosion than Atlantic or Gulf coasts Open exposure to high energy waves Average rate of erosion meter (0.016 feet) per year Hard Stabilization Structures built to decrease coastal erosion and interfere with sand movement Also called armoring of the shore Often results in unwanted outcomes Some structures may increase wave erosion Hard Stabilization Four major types of stabilization structures: 1. Groins and groin fields 2. Jetties 3. Breakwaters 4. Seawalls Groins and Groin Fields Built perpendicular to the beach Often made of rip rap, or large blocky material Traps sand upcoast, which can cause erosion downstream of the longshore current May necessitate a groin field, or a series of groins built along a beach Jetties Built perpendicular to shore Built in pairs Built to protect harbor entrances Breakwaters Built parallel to a shoreline Designed to protect harbors from waves Can cause excessive erosion, requiring dredging to keep area stable

10 Seawalls Destructive to environment Designed to armor coastline and protect human developments One large storm can remove beach Wave activity eventually undermines seawall structure; need continual repair or will collapse Alternatives to Hard Stabilization Three major alternatives 1. Construction restrictions 2. Beach replenishment 3. Relocation Alternatives to Hard Stabilization Construction restrictions Simplest alternative Limit building near shorelines Paradoxically, National Flood Insurance Program encouraged construction Alternatives to Hard Stabilization Beach replenishment Sand added to beach/longshore current Expensive; costs between $5 and $10 per cubic yard Sand must be dredged from elsewhere. Alternatives to hard stabilization Relocation Move structures rather than protect them in areas of erosion End of CHAPTER 10 The Coast: Beaches and Shoreline Processes

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