Browse: Coastal Features

Baja California, Mexico
High wave energy erodes the headlands projecting into the Pacific Ocean, while sandy pocket beaches form in protected bays.

Baja California, Mexico
A wave-cut notch is formed at the end of this headland. The notch is at the elevation of high tide waves; the photo illustrates low tide.
Santa Cruz, California
The Pacific Coast of California is often characterized by steep bluffs and small pocket beaches.
Point Lobos State Park, central California
Jagged rocky headlands and small pocket beaches are typical of sediment-poor coasts.
Point Lobos State Park, central California
The irregular Pacific coast.
Point Lobos State Park, central California
A sea arch along the Pacific coast.
Bethany Beach, Delaware
The Delaware coast is an emergent, sediment-rich coast with broad beaches.
Miami Beach, Florida
In the surf zone, waves and beach swash move water and substantial sediment. Note the suspended sand at the water’s edge.
Lake Michigan near Milwaukee Wisconsin
Waves often approach the shore at an angle, as shown here, creating the longshore current which moves large quantities of sediment parallel to the shore. Note slumping of sediment down the eroding bluff, as shown by the blocks of sumac and sod that once grew at the top of the bluff.
Lake Michigan near Milwaukee Wisconsin
Aerial view of wave fronts approaching the Lake Michigan shoreline at an angle. Longshore current is left-to-right across the photo.
Miami Beach, Florida
Waves swash up the beach at an angle and backwash flows back to the sea perpendicular to the shoreline. This sets up the “beach drift,” a movement of sediment along the beach that is a significant component of longshore drift.
Lake Michigan near Milwaukee Wisconsin
A set of groins protect the Lake Michigan shoreline in the background. Notice that in the area of the groins the bluff is stable, as indicated by a less steep slope and mature forest. In the unprotected foreground, the shoreline is eroded and the bluff is steep, unvegetated, and unstable.
Miami Beach, Florida
A concrete and timber groin built to protect the beach from erosion by the longshore drift.
Miami Beach, Florida
Notice that sand has accumulated up-current of the groin (left of photo), while the beach is eroded and lower down-current of the groin (right of photo).
Juist, northern Germany
Aerial view of the barrier island "Juist" in the North Sea, just off the coast of northern Germany. Notice the broad sand beach and the sand dunes typical of barrier islands. Some stick fences have been installed to stabilize the dunes.

Juist, northern Germany
Another aerial view of the barrier island Juist. Such islands are long, narrow, and dynamic, with sand constantly being eroded and deposited.

Tom’s River, New Jersey
Topographic map of a barrier island on the New Jersey coast. Note the characteristic narrow, linear form.
Boothbay, Maine
Topographic map of a submergent, sediment-poor coastline. Notice the irregular coastline and lack of beaches.
Point Reyes National Seashore, California
Topographic map of a spit.
Oceanside, California
Topographic map of bay mouth bar.