Encyclopedia of Coastal Science

2005 Edition
| Editors: Maurice L. Schwartz

Beach Sediment Characteristics

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-3880-1_41

Beach sediments are derived from a wide variety of sources, including cliff erosion, rivers, glaciers, volcanoes, coral reefs, sea shells, the Holocene rise in sea level, and the cannibalization of ancient coastal deposits. The nature of the source and the type and intensity of the erosional, transportational, and depositional processes in a coastal region determine the type of material that makes up a beach. In turn, the characteristics of the sediments strongly influence beach morphology and the processes that operate on it (Trenhaile, 1997).

Grain size

The grain size of pebbles and other large clastic material can be measured with callipers, and sieves are used for sand and other coarse beach sediments. A number of techniques are used to determine the size of finer sediments including Coulter Counters, pipettes, hydrometers, optical settling instruments, and electron microscopes. The grain size can be expressed using the Wentworth scale, which is based on classes that are separated...
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