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Beach

Area of loose particles at the edge of the sea or other body of water

A beach is a landform alongside a body of water which consists of loose particles.

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Beach

Area of loose particles at the edge of the sea or other body of water

A beach is a landform alongside a body of water which consists of loose particles. The particles composing a beach are typically made from rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles. The particles can also be biological in origin, such as mollusc shells or coralline algae.



Wild sand and shingle beaches are shaped and maintained naturally by wave actions

Recreational beaches, such as this one on the Gold Coast of Australia, can be shaped and maintained by beach nourishment projects.

Some beaches have man-made infrastructure, such as lifeguard posts, changing rooms, showers, shacks and bars. They may also have hospitality venues (such as resorts, camps, hotels, and restaurants) nearby. Wild beaches, also known as undeveloped or undiscovered beaches, are not developed in this manner. Wild beaches can be appreciated for their untouched beauty and preserved nature.

Beaches typically occur in areas along the coast where wave or currentaction deposits and reworks sediments.

Overview

The four sections of most beaches.

Swash zone: is alternately covered and exposed by wave run-up.

Beach face: sloping section below berm that is exposed to the swash of the waves.

Wrack line: the highest reach of the daily tide where organic and inorganic debris is deposited by wave action.

Berm: Nearly horizontal portion that stays dry except during extremely high tides and storms. May have sand dunes.

Although the seashore is most commonly associated with the word beach, beaches are also found by lakes and alongside large rivers.

Beach may refer to:

small systems where 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 that 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 long shore 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. In temperate areas where summer is characterised by calmer seas and longer periods between breaking wave crests, the beach profile is higher in summer. The gentle wave action during this season tends to transport sediment up the beach towards the berm where it is deposited and remains while the water recedes. Onshore winds carry it further inland forming and enhancing dunes.

Conversely, the beach profile is lower in the storm season (winter in temperate areas) due to the increased wave energy, and the shorter periods between breaking wave crests. Higher energy waves breaking in quick succession tend to mobilise sediment from the shallows, keeping it in suspension where it is prone to be carried along the beach by longshore currents, or carried out to sea to form longshore bars, especially if the longshore current meets an outflow from a river or flooding stream. The removal of sediment from the beach berm and dune thus decreases the beach profile.

In tropical areas, the storm season tends to be during the summer months, with calmer weather commonly associated with the winter season.

If storms coincide with unusually high tides, or with a freak wave event such as a tidal surge or tsunami which causes significant coastal flooding, substantial quantities of material may be eroded from the coastal plain or dunes behind the berm by receding water. This flow may alter the shape of the coastline, enlarge the mouths of rivers and create new deltas at the mouths of streams that had not been powerful enough to overcome longshore movement of sediment.

The line between beach and dune is difficult to define in the field. Over any significant period of time, sediment 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.

Use for recreation

History

A popular Victorian seaside resort. Llandudno, 1856Brighton, The Front and the Chain Pier Seen in the Distance, early 19th century

The development of the beach as a popular leisure resort from the mid-19th century was the first manifestation of what is now the global tourist industry. The first seaside resorts were opened in the 18th century for the aristocracy, who began to frequent the seaside as well as the then fashionable spa towns, for recreation and health. One of the earliest such seaside resorts, was Scarborough in Yorkshire during the 1720s; it had been a fashionable spa town since a stream of acidic water was discovered running from one of the cliffs to the south of the town in the 17th century.The first rolling bathing machines were introduced by 1735.

The opening of the resort in Brighton and its reception of royal patronagefrom King George IV, extended the seaside as a resort for health and pleasure to the much larger London market, and the beach became a centre for upper-class pleasure and frivolity. This trend was praised and artistically elevated by the new romantic ideal of the picturesque landscape; Jane Austen's unfinished novel Sanditon is an example of that. Later, Queen Victoria's long-standing patronage of the Isle of Wight and Ramsgate in Kent ensured that a seaside residence was considered as a highly fashionable possession for those wealthy enough to afford more than one home.

Seaside resorts for the working class

Blackpool Promenade c. 1898

The extension of this form of leisure to the middle and working classes began with the development of the railways in the 1840s, which offered cheap fares to fast-growing resort towns. In particular, the completion of a branch line to the small seaside town of Blackpool from Poulton led to a sustained economic and demographic boom. A sudden influx of visitors, arriving by rail, led entrepreneurs to build accommodation and create new attractions, leading to more visitors and a rapid cycle of growth throughout the 1850s and 1860s.

The growth was intensified by the practice among the Lancashire cotton mill owners of closing the factories for a week every year to service and repair machinery. These became known as wakes weeks. Each town's mills would close for a different week, allowing Blackpool to manage a steady and reliable stream of visitors over a prolonged period in the summer. A prominent feature of the resort was the promenade and the pleasure piers, where an eclectic variety of performances vied for the people's attention. In 1863, the North Pier in Blackpool was completed, rapidly becoming a centre of attraction for elite[clarification needed] visitors. Central Pier was completed in 1868, with a theatre and a large open-air dance floor.

Many of the popular beach resorts were equipped with bathing machines, because even the all-covering beachwear of the period was considered immodest. By the end of the century the English coastline had over 100 large resort towns, some with populations exceeding 50,000.

Expansion around the world

Seaside facade at Monte Carlo, 1870s

The development of the seaside resort abroad was stimulated by the well-developed English love of the beach. The French Riviera alongside the Mediterranean had already become a popular destination for the British upper class by the end of the 18th century. In 1864, the first railway to Nice was completed, making the Riviera accessible to visitors from all over Europe. By 1874, residents of foreign enclaves in Nice, most of whom were British, numbered 25,000. The coastline became renowned for attracting the royalty of Europe, including Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.

Continental European attitudes towards gambling and nakedness tended to be more lax than in Britain, so British and French entrepreneurs were quick to exploit the possibilities. In 1863, Charles III, Prince of Monaco, and François Blanc, a French businessman, arranged for steamships and carriages to take visitors from Nice to Monaco, where large luxury hotels, gardens and casinos were built. The place was renamed[citation needed] Monte Carlo.

Commercial sea bathing spread to the United States and parts of the British Empire by the end of the 19th century. By the late 1890s, Henry Flagler developed the Florida East Coast Railway, which linked the coastal sea resorts developing at St. Augustine, FL and Miami Beach, FL, to winter travelers from the northern United States and Canada on the East Coast Railway. By the early 20th century surfing was developed in Hawaii and Australia; it spread to southern California by the early 1960s. By the 1970s cheap and affordable air travel led to the growth of a truly global tourism market which benefited areas such as the Mediterranean, Australia, South Africa, and the coastal Sun Belt regions of the United States.

Today

Summer 
Joaquín Sorolla (1904)Tourists at the Mediterranean Sea beach of Barcelona, 2007Bondi Beach, a popular beach area in Sydney, Australia.

Beaches can be 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 behavior might not be tolerated and might even be prosecuted [clarification needed].

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.

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 are a frequent outcome.

Artificial beaches

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

The soothing qualities of a beach and the pleasant environment offered to the beachgoer 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 famous example of beach nourishment came with the replenishment of Waikīkī Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, where sand from Manhattan Beach, California was transported via ship and barge throughout most of the 20th century in order to combat Waikiki's erosion problems. 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.

Restrictions on access

Public access to beaches is restricted in some parts of the world. For example, most beaches on the Jersey Shore are restricted to people who can purchase beach tags. Some beaches also restrict dogs for some periods of the year.

Private beaches

Also, private beaches such as those along the shores, may belong to the neighborhood association nearby. Signs are usually posted the entrance. A permit or special use occasion event may be granted upon executing the proper channels to legally obtain one.

Public beaches

The first public beach in the United States opened on July 12, 1896 in the town of Revere, Massachusetts, with over 45,000 people attending on the opening day. The beach was run bay the Metropolitan Parks Commissionand the new beach had a bandstand, public bathhouses, shade pavilions, and lined by a broad boulevard that ran along the beach.

Public access to beaches is protected by law in the U.S. State of Oregon, thanks to a 1967 state law, the Oregon Beach Bill, which guaranteed public access from the Columbia River to the California state line, "so that the public may have the free and uninterrupted use".

Formation



Quartz sand particles and shell fragments from a beach. The primary component of typical beach sand is quartz, or silica (SiO2).



Sand and shingle is scoured, graded and moved around by the action of waves and currents

Beaches are the result of wave action by which waves or currents move sandor 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. A coral reef offshore is a significant source of sand particles. Some species of fish that feed on algae attached to coral outcrops and rocks can create substantial quantities of sand particles over their lifetime as they nibble during feeding, digesting the organic matter, and discarding the rock and coral particles which pass through their digestive tracts.

The composition of the beach depends upon the nature and quantity of sediments upstream of the beach, and the speed of flow and turbidity of water and wind. Sediments are moved by moving water and wind according to their particle size and state of compaction. Particles tend to settle and compact in still water. Once compacted, they are more resistant to erosion. Established vegetation (especially species with complex network root systems) will resist erosion by slowing the fluid flow at the surface layer. When affected by moving water or wind, particles that are eroded and held in suspension will increase the erosive power of the fluid that holds them by increasing the average density, viscosity, and volume of the moving fluid.

Coastlines facing very energetic wind and wave systems will tend to hold only large rocks as smaller particles will be held in suspension in the turbid water column and carried to calmer areas by longshore currents and tides. Coastlines that are protected from waves and winds will tend to allow finer sediments such as clay and mud to precipitate creating mud flats and mangrove forests. The shape of a beach depends on whether the waves are constructive or destructive, and whether the material is sand or shingle. Waves are constructive if the period between their wave crests is long enough for the breaking water to recede and the sediment to settle before the succeeding wave arrives and breaks.
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