Skip to main content

Blowholes

  • Reference work entry

Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series book series (EESS)

Definition

A blowhole is a crack or fissure in coastal rock through which air and spray is expelled when waves break on the shore.

Blowholes are a feature where large swell impacts coasts, on which the rock contains fractures. Weaknesses, such as joints or fault lines, are preferentially widened, primarily through wave action but also through other processes such as solution of reef limestone. In many cases this can result in a sea cave. Coasts that experience strong swell are impacted by trains of regular period waves generated by remote storms and which have travelled across the ocean. Successive waves trap air into the fissure or sea cave and compress it as the crest of the wave fills the cavity. This pneumatic pressure is released in a spectacular fashion with a deep hiss and an upward spray or blast of water through the cracks Figure 1.

Blowholes. Figure 1
figure 1_189

Several adjacent blowholes on the southern shore of Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-2639-2_189
  • Chapter length: 2 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   549.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-90-481-2639-2
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Blowholes. Figure 1

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

About this entry

Cite this entry

Woodroffe, C.D. (2011). Blowholes. In: Hopley, D. (eds) Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2639-2_189

Download citation