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The World's Beaches

A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline

Orrin H. Pilkey (Author), William J. Neal (Author), James Andrew Graham Cooper (Author), Joseph T. Kelley (Author)

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Take this book to the beach; it will open up a whole new world. Illustrated throughout with color photographs, maps, and graphics, it explores one of the planet’s most dynamic environments—from tourist beaches to Arctic beaches strewn with ice chunks to steaming hot tropical shores. The World’s Beaches tells how beaches work, explains why they vary so much, and shows how dramatic changes can occur on them in a matter of hours. It discusses tides, waves, and wind; the patterns of dunes, washover fans, and wrack lines; and the shape of berms, bars, shell lags, cusps, ripples, and blisters. What is the world’s longest beach? Why do some beaches sing when you walk on them? Why do some have dark rings on their surface and tiny holes scattered far and wide? This fascinating, comprehensive guide also considers the future of beaches, and explains how extensively people have affected them—from coastal engineering to pollution, oil spills, and rising sea levels.
Dedication Page (Santa Aguila Foundation)

PREFACE
(ACKNOWLEDGMENTS)

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
LIST OF TABLES

Part I: THE GLOBAL CHARACTER OF BEACHES

Chapter 1: A WORLD OF BEACHES
Beaches: Crossroads of History
Beaches: Avenues of Commerce
Beaches: Nature’s Most Dynamic Environment
Beaches: Varied Materials
Beaches: Obstacle Courses
Beaches: To Be or Not To Be
Beaches: Comber’s Delight or Nature’s Trash Collector?
Beaches: A Natural Laboratory

Chapter 2: BEACHES OF THE WORLD
What is a Beach?
Recipe for Making a Beach
Classification of Coasts and Beaches
Classifications and a Global Model
Beach Sediments and the Plate Tectonic Setting
Beaches as Landforms
Climate and Types of Coasts
We Stand on Their Shoulders

Chapter 3: OF WHAT ARE BEACHES MADE: SEDIMENTS
Beach Sediments
Grain Size, Sorting and Shape
Grain Composition
Terrigenous Sediments
Heavy Minerals
Carbonate Sediments
Other Beach Materials

Chapter 4: HOW BEACHES WORK: WAVES, CURRENTS, TIDES AND WIND
The Most Dynamic Place on Earth
Waves
Wave Energy
Wave Types
Breakers
Wave Refraction, Diffraction and Reflection
Currents (Alongshore; Onshore; Offshore)
Wave-Current-Sediment Interaction
Tsunamis
Tides
Tides and Beach Groundwater
Other Water Level Changes
Surges
El Niño
Wind
The Global Picture

Chapter 5: THE FORM OF THE BEACH: CRABS-EYE AND BIRDS-EYE VIEWS
Beach Profiles: The Crab’s Eye View
Profile Changes
Beach Plans: The Bird’s Eye View
Berms and Cusps
Washover Fans
Offshore Bars


Part II: HOW TO READ A BEACH

Chapter 6: THE BEACH SURFACE UP-CLOSE: IMPRINTS OF TIDES, CURRENTS, AND WAVES
Near-Shore, Beach, and Tidal Flat Features
Ripple Marks
Modified Ripple Marks
Swash and Backwash Features
Other Surface Features

Chapter 7: ESCAPE FROM WITHIN: AIR AND WATER IN THE BEACH
Knee Deep in Sand: Airy Beaches
Air Escape Structures
Watery Beaches and Water Escape Structures

Chapter 8: WHICH EVER WAY THE WIND BLOWS: REWORKING THE BEACH SURFACE
Wind on Wet Sand and Mud
Wet-to-Dry Transition Structures
Wind on Dry Sediment
Dunes and Dune Structures
Dune Plants: Surviving in a Desert

Chapter 9: BEACH CREATURES: TRACKS, TRAILS, AND TRACES
Beach Animals from Micro to Macro
Macrofaunal Clues
Molluscs (clams and snails)
Crustaceans
Chelicerata
Polychaetes
Other Invertebrate Animals
Vetebrates
Evidence of the Habitat Role of Animals

Chapter 10: CARBONATE BEACHES: SEA SHELLS AND THE STORIES THEY TELL
Carbonate Shells, Skeletons, and Secretions
Other Carbonate Sediments
Non-Calcareous Plant and Animal Remains
Shell Abundance
Where do Seashells Come From?
The Significance of Broken Seashells
Shell Rounding
Orientation of Shells on the Beach
Secondary Shell Color
Shell Collecting: An Environmental Afterthought

Chapter 11: DIGGING THE BEACH: INTO THE THIRD DIMENSION
Bedding
Black Sands and Cross Bedding
Burrows and Bioturbation

Part III: THE GLOBAL THREAT TO BEACHES

Chapter 12: BEACHES AND PEOPLE
Coastal Engineering
Hard Stabilization
Soft Stabilization
Other Damaging Activities
Water Pollution
Oil Spills
The Environmental Truths About Beaches

Chapter 13: EPILOGUE
The Urbanized Beach: From Middens to the Maelstrom of Development

GLOSSARY
REFERENCES
Orrin H. Pilkey is the James B. Duke Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences and Director Emeritus of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Duke University. He is the author of A Celebration of the World’s Barrier Islands, among other books. William J. Neal is Emeritus Professor of Geology at Grand Valley State University and coauthor, with Orrin Pilkey, of How to Read a North Carolina Beach: Bubble Holes, Barking Sands, and Rippled Runnels. Joseph T. Kelley is a Professor of Marine Geology at the University of Maine and Chair of the Earth Science Department. He is a co-author with Orrin Pilkey and William Neal of Atlantic Coast Beaches. Andrew Cooper is Professor of Coastal Studies and head of Coastal Research in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.
“A comprehensive, readable guide to the physical features of many kinds of beaches and some of the threats they face.”—New York Times
“A well-illustrated introduction to the geology and ecology of beaches.”—Scienceblogs.com/The Guardian
“The book is engagingly written and exceptionally well illustrated. . . . If one wonders how beach systems work and cares about the future, then this is the book to own, read, and share.”—PR Pinet Choice
“This book has a wide appeal. . . . Written in an engaging style.”—Reference & Research Book News / Scitech Book News
“A book that anyone with an interest in beaches, from the geologist to the holiday maker, can enjoy reading and come away, not only better informed, but also aware of what to look for on beaches and coastlines.”—John Goodier Emerald Journal
"Beaches occupy a magical place in the human consciousness. We fish from their tidal waters, run with our children on the cushioning sands and dream of what waits over life's horizon as we gather for a sunset. But there is much more to be known of these coastal wonderlands. Learn in The World's Beaches their critical function as a delicate ecosystem, how to read the signs left by winds, waves, plants and animals of the beach. Discover the surprising ways our irreplaceable beaches are increasingly threatened and what must be done to save them."—Rob Lowe, Actor

“Ask 100 people their views about beaches and you'll get 100 love stories. We all love the beach. The World's Beaches delivers a comprehensive view into what a beach is, why it exists and how they are increasingly at risk."—Jim Moriarty, CEO Surfrider Foundation

"Read this book and you'll never look at a beach in the same way. From waves and crab tracks, to sand, gravel and climate change, this book is filled with engrossing details to remind humankind of its enduring love of beaches worldwide.”—Miles O. Hayes, Coastal Geomorphologist, Research Planning, Inc.

“Beach visitors around the world will want to own this superb collection of images and explanations of how the beach works. It’s a must-read book for anyone wanting to know more about these dynamic natural resources.”—Robert A. Morton, United States Geological Survey (USGS)

"We now have an outstanding, lively, readable, well illustrated and thorough resource to lead us towards a deeper understanding of the how beaches form and function and what we should be concerned for in their future. This book should be everyone’s pillow and companion for the day at the beach."—Dr. Harold R. Wanless, University of Miami

"The more you know about a place the more you will learn to love it, and want to protect it. The photos and captions alone in this book will gain you a great new appreciation of these precious coastlines."—Yvon Chouinard, owner, Patagonia, Inc.

Excerpt from Chapter 1: A World of Beaches

Beaches are a treasure; cherished by most, exploited by some, enjoyed by all. Beaches are places for recreation, contemplation, renewal and rejuvenation, communication with Nature, and sometimes, while staring out to sea, thinking about our place in the Universe. On beaches we swim, surf, fish, jog, stroll or just lose ourselves in the wonder of where the land meets the sea. Yet for all of our interaction with beaches, few of us understand the beach: why its there, how it works, why beaches show so much variety in form, composition, and why dramatic changes can occur in a matter of hours.

Beaches: Crossroads of History

Humans have been crossing beaches since the dawn of time, and beaches have been, and still are, critical to human history and development. Unfortunately much of that history has to do with invasions, but discovery was part of this human tide as well. Julius Caesar landed on Deal Beach near Dover when he invaded Britain in 55 B.C., fifteen hundred or so years before Columbus landed in the New World. In 1001 A.D., Leif Erickson was the first European to set foot on a beach in Vinland (Newfoundland). King Canute sat on his throne on a beach in 1020 and ordered the tides to come no closer; an early object lesson to demonstrate to his subjects that man, even the king, does not have authority over the sea. The Normans crossed the beach at Hastings, England in 1066 to defeat the English. The Mongols crossed the beach at today's Fukuoka, Japan in 1281 to be defeated by the divine wind, a typhoon that destroyed the invasion fleet. The Spanish Armada of 1588 met a similar fate in their attempt to invade England when a great storm blew the surviving ships onto the rocky coasts of the British Isles. Many of the survivors, and much debris, and treasure washed up on Ireland's beaches. Columbus planted the Spanish flag and a cross in 1492 on the beach at San Salvador in the New World, to the amazement of the natives. And in 1519 Hernán Cortes with 600 men crossed the beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula on his way to conquering the Aztec Empire. Australians first met Aborigines on a beach in 1606. In 1619, a Dutch vessel landed 20 slaves on a beach in Chesapeake Bay; the beginning of African slavery in America. In 1620 the Pilgrims disembarked in the new world next to a large rock on the beach now known as Plymouth Rock. In 1659 Robinson Crusoe is said to have crawled across the beach on an uninhabited island off the Orinoco River, northern South America, where he remained for 28 years. The great explorer Captain Cook met natives on the beach in Hawaii (the Sandwich Islands) where they killed him in 1779. And Darwin met naked Patagonians on a cold beach in Tierra del Fuego in 1833.

In 1915 nearly 330,000 total casualties occurred on or very near the beaches of Gallipoli, Turkey, as the Turks beat back the invading Allied forces. Will Rogers died when his plane crashed on takeoff from a beach near Barrow, Alaska in 1935. And the beach at Dunkirk, France in 1940 was the scene of the spectacular rescue of the defeated British Expeditionary force in WWII. In 1944 the direction of the Armies reversed as the Allies invaded Europe across the beaches of Anzio, Italy, and then Normandy, France. And in the same time interval, beaches across the Pacific were killing fields as the Allies moved against the Japanese, culminating in the atomic bomb tests at the Bikini Atoll; the namesake for the Bikini bathing suit introduced by a Frenchman in 1946. The largest oil spill in history soiled the beaches of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in 1991 when Iraq purposely released oil to frustrate beach landings by U. S. marines in the Persian Gulf War.

Beaches: Avenues of Commerce

Archaeological sites are less common on today's beaches than in the past, having been erased by erosion and flooded by the rise in sea-level, but we can guess that early humans used the beach much in the same way as today's third-world coastal communities and subsistence cultures. The beach was their land road, and just as for today's subsistence societies, from the Arctic to the tropics, living next to the beach is living next to your main source of food. Places near the beach were also dump sites for garbage. Termed "middens" by archaeologists, massive piles of shells are common in many coastal settings near beaches and tidal flats where food resources were common. Today on Bazaruto Island, Mozambique and in other coastal subsistence societies, local people still contribute to growing shell middens.

From the North Slope of Alaska to the tropical shores of the Pacific in Colombia, beaches continue to be work places and storage places for fishing boats, or the space for net and fish-drying racks. In the tropics, sea breezes provide relief from the heat and help reduce malarial mosquitoes. The beach itself is a resource for construction material, and for whatever bounty the sea delivers up to the beach. The people of such communities live by the sea by necessity; it is their means of life. For one thing, a beach provides security with a vista to see who is approaching. But living next to the beach, particularly on low-lying coasts, is also a great risk, as demonstrated by the Great Tsunami of 2004 that roared across thousands of miles of Indian Ocean beaches and killed 225,000 people; both those there by necessity and those there by choice.

In contrast to subsistence cultures, urbanized shores are mostly characteristic of first world countries. The combination of the shore as a place of commerce and the shore as a place of leisure is probably as old as mankind. The ruins of Roman and Greek villas by the sea attest to a very early resort mentality while ancient Peruvians built massive temples and dug grave sites near their beaches. But it was not until the 19th Century that beaches became a greater focal point for technological and recreational development. In 1801 the first American Advertisement for a beach resort (Cape May, New Jersey) appeared in the Philadelphia Aroura. In 1845, the Sanlucar de Barrameda beach horse race began in Spain, and beach horse races in Laytown, Ireland commenced in 1876. The first successful transatlantic telegraph cable (1866) crossed the beach at Hearts Content, Newfoundland in the west, and the beach at Valentia Island, Ireland to the east. In 1898, gold was mined on the beach at Nome Alaska. In 1903 the speed of a horseless carriage was timed on the beach at Daytona Beach, Florida. Beginning in 1905 Duke Kahanamoku rejuvenated the Polynesian sport of surfing that the Hawaiian missionaries had halted earlier for being ungodly. In 1927, the same year that Charles Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St Louis on the beach at Old Orchard Beach, Maine (the airport was fogged in), beach volleyball was introduced to Europe in a French nudist camp. "Beach music" started in 1945. In 1953, Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster made love on a beach (Halona Beach, Hawaii) in "From Here to Eternity." The Beach Boys rock band formed in 1961. In 1963 Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello starred in the surfing classic "Beach Party" and in the 1968 movie "Planet of the Apes", Charlton Heston and Kim Hunter, riding horseback on a beach, discovered the ruins of the Statue of Liberty.

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