June 28, 2013

An Overview of the Different Types of Beaches – Sandy, Rocky, Public, Private, Etc.

Are you fond of going to the beach to bask under the heat of the sun? If so, then you must understand that beaches are not created equal. There are different types of beaches and they have distinct differences from each other.

Types Of Beaches

Beaches differ in shape, based on the forces that created them. They may be wave dominated, tide-modified, or tide-dominated. Wave dominated beaches are the ones normally exposed to constant waves, ocean swells, or low tides that are two meters or less in depth. Tide-modified beaches, on the other hand, happen in spots with a high tide range but have lower waves. This commonly occurs when the tide ranges from three to fifteen times the height of the wave, with the wave height being less than 0.3meters. The same thing goes for the tide-dominated beach. The only difference is that they occur when the tide range is between ten to fifteen times the wave height.

Aside from this, beaches also differ in the material they are composed of. They can be made up of boulders, shells, cobbles, mud, iron sand, or sand. Other types of beaches are listed as follows:

Reflective beaches are those with the lowest wave energy and are normally characterized by a steep narrow beach face. These types are often comprised of coarse sand and are generally short in length compared with the other types of beaches. Reflective beaches form in reefs, headlands, and sheltered pockets of rocks.

Longshore bar and trough beaches have shore parallel bar that is separated from the beach by a trough. The beach is straight and comprised of medium sand. The steep beach face is moderate. Rhythmic bar and beaches, as its name implies, have rhythmic bars and troughs and are high energy beaches. They have rip troughs and are separated by detached bars.

Low tide terrace is another beach type. It is made up of fine to medium sand and its beach face is moderately steep and is attached to a shallow bar or terrace often exposed at low tide. On the other hand, a dissipative beach is a high energy beach that normally includes two or three normal shore troughs or bars. Its low, sloping, and wide beach face consists of fine sand. Waves further break offshore lose energy as it travels across a wide surf zone.

Reflective and low tide terraces are beaches that have the coarsest sand. These beaches are moderately steep and straight and are fronted by a lower gradient of sand. Reflective sand flats, on the other hand, have smaller steeps and are low energy, high tide beaches made up of coarse sand and fronted by flat sands that go up to several hundred meters in length. During high tide, you’ll find deep water off the beach. And in low tide, the tidal currents usually parallel the low tide shoreline. Reflective tidal sand flats are normally composed of coarse sediments and fronted by hundreds of meters of low gradient sand flats. During low tide, the tide shoreline is relatively found at a long distance.

By knowing the different types of beaches, you can truly label yourself as a true-blue beach bum. Who knew there were so many different kinds of beaches out there, right?

Additional information at: http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/

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