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Coastal Classification

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Coastal Classification

Tied island

A wide variety of schemes for classifying coasts has been suggested-numerical, descriptive and genetic-but in many cases it is as difficult to remember the results of the classification as the individual land-forms. In the past, the most commonly used classification was that proposed by D.W. Johnson, who recognized four categories of shoreline:

  • (a) shorelines of submergence;
  • (b) shorelines of emergence;




  • (c) neutral shorelines, where the exact form is due to neither emergence nor submergence, but to a new constructional or tectonic term, such as a delta or a fault; and
  • (d) compound shorelines, including all shorelines which have an origin combining at least two of the preceding classes.



    Johnson's is a simple genetic classification, but places heavy emphasis on one factor, sea-level change, and requires that we know something about the past history of the coast-line. Strictly speaking, nearly all shorelines are confound. A more recent and potentially much more useful scheme is that proposed by J.L. Davies on the basis of energy environments. 0n a world map he recognizes

  • (a) storm wave environments, where destructive storm breakers are frequent and shingle beaches are common;
  • (b) swell environments, which are characterized by flat constructional wave; and
  • (c) protected environments, the low-energy conditions of enclosed or partially enclosed seas.

    It is also possible to apply the concept of differing energy environments on a wider scale.

    Next: Coastal Features










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