Beach: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A sand and shingle beach at Man O’War Cove, Dorset, England

A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of a body of water. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles, or cobblestones. The particles of which the beach is composed can sometimes instead have biological origins, such as shell fragments or coralline algae fragments.

Wild beaches are beaches which do not have lifeguards or trappings of modernity nearby, such as resorts and hotels. They are sometimes called undeclared, undeveloped, undefined, or undiscovered beaches. Wild beaches can be valued for their untouched beauty and preserved nature. They are found in less developed areas such as Puerto Rico, Thailand or Indonesia.

Beaches often occur along coastal areas where wave or current action deposits and reworks sediments.



Waikiki in Hawaii, USA at sunset.
Ölüdeniz (Blue Lagoon) Beach, Fethiye, Turkey

Although the seashore is most commonly associated with the word "beach", beaches are not just found by the sea or ocean.

The term 'beach' may refer to:

  • small systems in which the rock material moves onshore, offshore, or alongshore by the forces of waves and currents; or
  • geological units of considerable size.

The former are described in detail below; the larger geological units are discussed elsewhere under bars.

There are several conspicuous parts to a beach, all of which relate to the processes that form and shape it. The part mostly above water (depending upon tide), and more or less actively influenced by the waves at some point in the tide, is termed the beach berm. The berm is the deposit of material comprising the active shoreline. The berm has a crest (top) and a face — the latter being the slope leading down towards the water from the crest. At the very bottom of the face, there may be a trough, and further seaward one or more longshore bars: slightly raised, underwater embankments formed where the waves first start to break.

The sand deposit may extend well inland from the berm crest, where there may be evidence of one or more older crests (the storm beach) resulting from very large storm waves and beyond the influence of the normal waves. At some point the influence of the waves (even storm waves) on the material comprising the beach stops, and if the particles are small enough (sand size or smaller) , winds shape the feature. Where wind is the force distributing the grains inland, the deposit behind the beach becomes a dune.

These geomorphic features compose what is called the beach profile. The beach profile changes seasonally due to the change in wave energy experienced during summer and winter months. The beach profile is higher during the summer due to the gentle wave action during this season. The lower energy waves deposit sediment on the beach berm and dune, adding to the beach profile. Conversely, the beach profile is lower in the winter due to the increased wave energy associated with storms. Higher energy waves erode sediment from the beach berm and dune, and deposit it off shore, forming longshore bars. The removal of sediment from the beach berm and dune decreases the beach profile.

The line between beach and dune is difficult to define in the field. Over any significant period of time, sand is always being exchanged between them. The drift line (the high point of material deposited by waves) is one potential demarcation. This would be the point at which significant wind movement of sand could occur, since the normal waves do not wet the sand beyond this area. However, the drift line is likely to move inland under assault by storm waves.

Beach formation

Classic Caribbean beach on the island of Martinique - Les Salines
Sand from Pismo Beach, California including quartz, shell and rock fragments.

Beaches are the result of wave action by which waves or currents move sand or other loose sediments of which the beach is made as these particles are held in suspension. Alternatively, sand may be moved by saltation (a bouncing movement of large particles). Beach materials come from erosion of rocks offshore, as well as from headland erosion and slumping producing deposits of scree. Some of the whitest sand in the world, along Florida's Emerald Coast, comes from the erosion of quartz in the Appalachian Mountains. A coral reef offshore is a significant source of sand particles.

The shape of a beach depends on whether or not the waves are constructive or destructive, and whether the material is sand or shingle. Constructive waves move material up the beach while destructive waves move the material down the beach. On sandy beaches, the backwash of the waves removes material forming a gently sloping beach. On shingle beaches the swash is dissipated because the large particle size allows percolation, so the backwash is not very powerful, and the beach remains steep. Cusps and horns form where incoming waves divide, depositing sand as horns and scouring out sand to form cusps. This forms the uneven face on some sand shorelines.

There are several beaches which are claimed to be the "World's longest", including Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh (120 km), Marina Beach in India, Fraser Island beach, 90 Mile Beach in Australia and 90 Mile Beach in New Zealand (88 km) and Long Beach, Washington (which is about 40 km).

Beaches and recreation

Recreation on a California beach in the first decade of the 20th century.
Many beaches are very popular on warm sunny days such as Joss Bay beach in southern England.

Many beaches are very popular on warm sunny days. In the Victorian era, many popular beach resorts were equipped with bathing machines because even the all-covering beachwear of the period was considered immodest. This social standard still prevails in many Muslim countries. At the other end of the spectrum are topfree beaches and nude beaches where clothing is optional or not allowed. In most countries social norms are significantly different on a beach in hot weather, compared to adjacent areas where similar behaviour might not be tolerated and might possibly be persecuted because of this action.

In more than thirty countries in Europe, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Costa Rica, South America and the Caribbean, the best recreational beaches are awarded Blue Flag status, based on such criteria as water quality and safety provision. Subsequent loss of this status can have a severe effect on tourism revenues.

Due to intense use by the expanding human population, beaches are often dumping grounds for waste and litter, necessitating the use of beach cleaners and other cleanup projects. More significantly, many beaches are a discharge zone for untreated sewage in most underdeveloped countries; even in developed countries beach closure is an occasional circumstance due to sanitary sewer overflow. In these cases of marine discharge, waterborne disease from fecal pathogens and contamination of certain marine species is a frequent outcome.

Beach tokens

Beach tokens, a form of season pass admission ticket, may be required for entrance, for people and even pets.[1] They are made of metal etc. durable material, to enable them to withstand swimming, so the bearer can just carry them around his neck or on his swimsuit. Goals may be:

  • restricting to only community members
  • user fees for lifeguards, clean up

Artificial beaches

A combination of public carelessness and official negligence has turned this beach in Dar es Salaam into an open rubbish dump, posing a risk to public health.

Some beaches are artificial; they are either permanent or temporary (For examples see Monaco, Paris, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Toronto, Hong Kong and Singapore).

The soothing qualities of a beach and the pleasant environment offered to the beach goer are replicated in artificial beaches, such as "beach style" pools with zero-depth entry and wave pools that recreate the natural waves pounding upon a beach. In a zero-depth entry pool, the bottom surface slopes gradually from above water down to depth. Another approach involves so-called urban beaches, a form of public park becoming common in large cities. Urban beaches attempt to mimic natural beaches with fountains that imitate surf and mask city noises, and in some cases can be used as a play park.

Beach nourishment involves pumping sand onto beaches to improve their health. Beach nourishment is common for major beach cities around the world; however the beaches that have been nourished can still appear quite natural and often many visitors are unaware of the works undertaken to support the health of the beach. Such beaches are often not recognized (by consumers) as artificial.

A concept of IENCE has been devised to describe investment into the capacity of natural environments. IENCE is Investment to Enhance the Natural Capacity of the Environment and includes things like beach nourishment of natural beaches to enhance recreational enjoyment and snow machines that extend ski seasons for areas with an existing snow economy developed upon a natural snowy mountain. As the name implies IENCE is not quite mainstream natural science as its goal is to artificially invest into an environment's capacity to support anthropogenic economic activity. An artificial reef designed to enhance wave quality for surfing is another example of IENCE. The Surfrider Foundation has debated the merits of artificial reefs with members torn between their desire to support natural coastal environments and opportunities to enhance the quality of surfing waves. Similar debates surround Beach nourishment and Snow cannon in sensitive environments.

Beaches as habitat

Pic of Ventura, California.jpg

A beach is an unstable environment which exposes plants and animals to changeable and potentially harsh conditions. Some small animals burrow into the sand and feed on material deposited by the waves. Crabs, insects and shorebirds feed on these beach dwellers. The endangered Piping Plover and some tern species rely on beaches for nesting. Sea turtles also lay their eggs on ocean beaches. Seagrasses and other beach plants grow on undisturbed areas of the beach and dunes.

Ocean beaches are habitats with organisms adapted to salt spray, tidal overwash, and shifting sands. Some of these organisms are found only on beaches. Examples of these beach organisms in the southeast US include plants like sea oats, sea rocket, beach elder, beach morning glory aka Ipomoea pes-caprae, and beach peanut, and animals such as mole crabs aka Hippoidea, coquina clams aka Donax, ghost crabs, and white beach tiger beetles.[2]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Blair and Dawn Witherington (2007), Florida's Living Beaches, A Guide for the Curious Beachcomber, (Pineapple Press)

Further reading

  • Bascom, W. 1980. Waves and Beaches. Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, New York. 366 p.

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BEACH, a word of unknown origin; probably an old dialect word meaning shingle, hence, by transference, the place covered by shingle. Beach sometimes denotes the material thrown up by the waves, sometimes the long resulting ridge, but more frequently the area between high and low water, or even the area between land and sea covered with material thrown up by exceptional storms.

The actual character of beach material depends upon the nature and structure of the rocks inshore, the strength and direction of currents, and the force of the waves. The southern shore of the Isle of Wight furnishes a good example. The island ends westward in the well-known "Needles," consisting of chalk with flints. The disintegration of this rock by wave action separates the finer chalk, which is carried seawards in suspension, from the hard flint, which is piled in rough shingle upon the shore. The currents sweep constantly eastward up channel, and the rough flint shingle is rolled along by wave action toward the Ventnor rampart, and ground finer and finer until it arrives as a very fine flinty gravel at Ventnor pier. The sweep of Sandown Bay follows, where the cliffs are composed for the most part of greensand, and here the beach at low water is sandy and smooth. The eastern end of the island is again composed of chalk with flints, and here the beach material as at the western end consists of very coarse flint shingle. In this, as in similar cases, the material has been dragged seawards from the land by constant action of the undertow that accompanies each retreating tide and each returning wave. The resulting accumulated ridge is battered by every storm, and thrown above ordinary high-water mark in a ridge such as the Chesil Bank or the long grass-grown mound that has blocked the old channel of the Yar and diverted its waters into Yaverland Bay. Sandown furnishes an instructive example of the power of the eastward currents carrying high-storm waves. The groins built to preserve the foreshore are piled to the top with coarse shingle on the western side, while there is a drop of over 8 ft. on to the sands east of the wall, many thousands of tons of shingle having been moved bodily by the waves and deposited against each groin. The force of the waves has been measured on the west coast of Scotland and found to be as much as 3 tons per square foot. Against these forces the preservation of the shore from the advance of the sea becomes an extremely difficult and often a hopeless undertaking, since blocks of rock over ioo tons in weight have been moved by the waves. The beach is therefore unstable in its position. It advances in front of the encroaching sea, burying former beaches under the sand and mud of the now deeper water, or it retreats when the sea is withdrawn from the land or the land rises locally, leaving the old shingle stranded in a "raised beach," but its formation is in all cases due to the form and structure of the shore, the sapping action of the waves, the backward drag of the undertow plastering the shore with material, which is in turn bombarded by waves and swept by currents that cover the finer debris of the undertow with a layer of coarse fragments that are re-sorted by the daily action of currents and tides.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Stinson Beach, in California.




From Old English bæce, bece (stream), from Proto-Germanic *bakiz





beach (plural beaches)

  1. A horizontal strip of land, usually sandy, adjoining water.
    1988: “Up and down, the beach lay empty for miles.” - Second Son, Robert Ferro





to beach

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to beach (third-person singular simple present beaches, present participle beaching, simple past and past participle beached)

  1. To run (something) aground on a beach.





From Old Irish bech < Proto-Celtic *beko- (cf. Welsh beg-egyr (hornet)) < Proto-Indo-European *bhei- (cf. bee).



beach f.

  1. a bee.


Second declension

Bare forms

Case Singular Plural
Nominative beach beacha
Vocative a bheach a bheacha
Genitive beiche beach
Dative beach beacha

Forms with the definite article

Case Singular Plural
Nominative an bheach na beacha
Genitive na beiche na mbeach
Dative leis an mbeach

don bheach

leis na beacha


Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Eclipsis
beach bheach mbeach
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

Simple English


A beach is an area of lakeshore or seashore which is fairly open, slopes smoothly to the water, and is free of trees, large boulders, or anything else which might make walking difficult or impossible. Many beaches are made of sand, but some beaches are made of gravel. Most people enjoy beaches as a place to swim, to work on their tan, or just to relax. The most popular beaches have fine white or light-colored sand and warm water to swim in. Beaches may also be popular because of the excellent opportunities for diving or for seeing marine life.

Among the world's most popular and well-known beaches are Aruba (Dutch Caribbean), Long Beach (Canada), Copacabana Beach (Brazil), Hot Water Beach (New Zealand), Megan Bay (St. Thomas), Kailua Beach (Hawaii), Zandvoort Beach (Netherlands) and Bondi Beach (Australia).

Over the past years, many beaches have changed their rules about dress, and most countries now have naturist beaches where clothing is optional or even where clothing is not allowed.

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