Natural Landscapes Along Brazilian Coastline

  • Guilherme Borges FernandezEmail author
  • Thais Baptista da Rocha
  • Eduardo Guimarães Barboza
  • Sergio Rebello Dillenburg
  • Maria Luiza Correa da Camara Rosa
  • Rodolfo José Angulo
  • Maria Cristina de Souza
  • Luiz Henrique Sielski de Oliveira
  • Jose Maria Landim Dominguez
Part of the Geography of the Physical Environment book series (GEOPHY)


The Brazilian coastline extends from 8500 km from Northern Hemisphere 4° to the 34° in South Latitude, covering different natural landscapes. By landscapes, we understand the relationship between geomorphological and geological conditions and vegetation cover, and process involving climate and oceanography that shape the landscapes. This chapter presents a synthesis or an overview of different landscape patterns observed along the Brazilian coastline. Using this simple approach, we regionalized five different segments where we observe common landscape characteristics. The first two segments (northern and northeastern) is part of Caraíba alignment, i.e., NNE to SSW alignment. Three others refer to Brasiliana direction, where the coastline assumes predominant NNE to SSW pattern. The northern segment is classified as tidal flats in association of several estuaries, covered by mangroves in an equatorial zone and extended from Cape Orange to São Marcos Bay. Coastal dunes and Neogene predominant rocky coasts, with savannas distributed in the semiarid zone, are classified as northeastern landscape domain. This second segment marks the landscapes individualized from São Marcos Bay to Cape Calcanhar. The inflection to the S/SE direction, from Cabo Calcanhar to Cape Frio, the eastern coastline is marked by Neogene rocky coasts and wave-dominated deltas covered by Atlantic rainforest, along the tropical zone. It is important to mention that series of coral reefs disperse close to the coastline. From Cape Frio to Cape Santa Marta, the southeastern region is defined by granitic and gneisses rocky coast, and narrow coastal plains, covered by Atlantic rainforests, in the tropical zone. The last segment, in the southern part of Brazil, is characterized by Quaternary plains formed by coastal sandy barriers and lagoons with Restingas vegetation, distributed in tempered climate condition. At the end of this chapter, we present some information regarding oceanic volcanic islands as part of Brazilian territory, showing predominant landscapes vary from shore platforms and beaches formed by carbonate materials and siliciclastic sediments. Along each segment, we mention some problems regarding coastal erosion and other typical problems associated with pressure of socioeconomic activities.


Coastal sandy barriers Rocky coasts Coastal dunes Estuaries 



We would like to thank the editors that trust this chapter with a very few time to finish and a lot of patience to wait. The correspondent author thanks the co-authors who made this work possible by their contribution. We would like to thank Alberto Figueiredo Jr., André Silva, Carlos Guedes, Daniella Soares, Davis Pereira, Eduardo Baume, João Regis dos Santos, Rafael Cuellar that kindly gave some of the pictures that we use in this manuscript. To Pedro Fernandes for the all the support about the maps, presented in this chapter, we are very grateful.


  1. Almeida FFM (1955) Geologia e petrologia do arquipélago de Fernando de Noronha. Monografia 13. Departamento Nacional da Produção Mineral, Rio de Janeiro. 181 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Almeida FFM (1961) Geologia e petrologia da ilha de Trindade. Departamento Nacional de Produção Mineral, Monografia 18, Rio de Janeiro. 197 p. 1mapGoogle Scholar
  3. Alvares CA, Stape JL, Sentelhas PC , Gonçalves JLM, Sparovek G (2013) Koppen’s climate classification map for Brazil. Meteorol Z 22(6):711–728CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andrade GO (1959) O recife anular das rocas, um registro de recentes variações eustáticas no Atlântico equatorial. Anais da Associação dos Geógrafos Brasileiros 11(1):29–61Google Scholar
  5. Angulo RJ, Lessa GC, Souza MC (2006) A critical review of mid- to late- Holocene sea-level fluctuations on the eastern Brazilian coastline. Quat Sci Rev 25:486–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Angulo RJ, Lessa GC, Souza, MC (2009) The Holocene Barrier Systems of Paranaguá and Northern Santa Catarina Coasts, Southern Brazil. In: Dillenburg SF, Hesp PA (eds) Geology and geomorphology of Holocene coastal barriers of Brazil, 1st ed. Springer, New York, pp 135–176Google Scholar
  7. Angulo RJ, Souza MC, Campos TFC, Bezerra FHR, Fernandes LA, Giannini PCF, Pitombo FB, Veiga FV (2013a) Evidence for Late Quaternary episodic uplift of the São Pedro and São Paulo Archipelago, Equatorial Atlantic. Quat Int 317:102–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Angulo RJ, Souza MC, Fernandes LA, Disaró ST (2013b) Quaternary sea-level changes and aeolianites in the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, northeastern Brazil. Quat Int 305:15–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Angulo RJ, Souza MC, Barboza EG, Rosa MLCC, Fernandes LA, Guedes CCF, Oliveira LHS, Manzolli RP, Disaró ST, Ferreira AG, Martin CM (2017) Quaternary sea-level changes and coastal evolution of the Island of Trindade, Brazil. J S Am Earth Sci (accepted)Google Scholar
  10. Anthony JE, Gardel A, Gratiot N, Proisy C, Allison MA (2010) The Amazon-influenced muddy coast of South America: a review of mud-bank–shoreline interactions. Earth Sci Rev 103:99–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Asp N, Gomes VJC, Borges A, Correa JC, Nittrouer CA (2016) Sediment source, turbidity maximum, and implications for mud exchange between channel and mangroves in an Amazonian estuary. Ocean Dyn 66:285–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Barboza EG, Rosa MLCC, Hesp PA, Dillenburg SR, Tomazelli LJ, Ayup-Zouain RN (2011) Evolution of the Holocene Coastal Barrier of Pelotas Basin (Southern Brazil)—a new approach with GPR data. J Coast Res SI 64:646–650Google Scholar
  13. Barletta RC, Calliari LJ (2001) Determinação da intensidade das tempestades que atuam no litoral do Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. Revista Pesquisas em Geociências 28:117–124Google Scholar
  14. Branner JC (1889) The geology of Fernando de Noronha. Am J Sci 37:145–161Google Scholar
  15. Branner JC (1890) The aeolian sandstones of Fernando de Noronha. Am J Sci 39:247–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Calliari LJ, Tozzi HAM, Klein AHF (1998) Beach morphology and coastline erosion associated with storm surges in southern Brazil—Rio Grande to Chuí, RS. An Acad Bras Ciênc 70:231–247Google Scholar
  17. Carneiro LCC Trindade WN, Silva IR, Vila-Consejo A, Short AD (2016) Maranhão beach systems, including the human impacts in São Luís beaches. In: Klein AJT, Short AD (eds) Brazillian beach systems, Coastal Research Library, 17.
  18. Cohen ML, Alves ICC, França MC, Pessenda LCR, Rossetti DF (2015) Relative sea-level and climatic changes in the Amazon littoral during the last 500years. Catena 133:441–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cohen MCL, França MC, Rosseti DF, Pessend LCR, Gianini PCF, Lorente F, Buso Junior AA, Castro DF, Macario K (2014) Landscape evolution during the late Quaternary at the Doce River mouth, Espírito Santo State, Southeastern Brazil. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 415:48–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dillenburg SR, Barboza EG (2014) The strike-fed Sandy Coast of Southern Brazil. In: Martini IP, Wanless HR (eds) Sedimentary coastal zones from high to low latitudes: similarities and differences. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 388:333–352Google Scholar
  21. Dillenburg SR, Roy PS, Cowell PJ, Tomazelli LJ (2000) Influence of antecedent topography on coastal evolution as tested by the Shoreface Translation-Barrier Model (STM). J Coast Res 16:71–81Google Scholar
  22. Dillenburg SR, Tomazelli LJ, Clerot LCP (2003) Gradients of wave energy as the main factor controlling the evolution of the coast of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil during the Late Holocene. In: Coastal Sediments’03, Clearwater Beach, 5, Proceedings [CD-ROM]. Regional alongshore variability of shoreline movements.pdfGoogle Scholar
  23. Dillenburg SR, Barboza EG, Rosa MLCC, Caron F, Sawakuchi A (2017) The complex prograded Cassino barrier in southern Brazil: geological and morphological evolution and records of climatic, oceanographic and sea-level changes in the last 7–6 ka. Mar Geol 390:106–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dominguez JML (2009) The coastal zone of Brazil. In: Dillenburg SR, Hesp PA (eds) Geology and geomorphology of Holocene Coastal barriers of Brazil. Chap. 2, 17–51. Springer, Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences 107Google Scholar
  25. Dominguez JML, Martin L, Bittencourt ACSP (1987) Sea-Level History and Quaternary Evolution of Rivermouth-Associated Beach-Ridge plains along the eastern/southeastern Brazilian Coast. In: Nummedal D, Pilkey OH, Howard JD (eds) Sea-Level Fluctuation and Coastal Evolution. 1a.ed. Tulsa—Oklahoma—EUA: SEPM 41:115–127Google Scholar
  26. Fernandez GB, Figueiredo MS, Rocha TB, Maluf VB, Martins CA, Moulton MAB (2016) Foredune morphological changes by offshore winds revealed by ground-penetrating radar: Massambaba Beach, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. J Coastal Res SI 75(1):278–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Guedes CCF, Gianini PCF, Sawakushi AO, DeWittt R, Aguiar VAP (2017) Weakening of northeast trade winds during the Heinrich stadial 1 event recorded by dune field stabilization in tropical Brazil. Quat Res 1–13Google Scholar
  28. Hartt CF (1870) Geology and physical geography of Brazil. Fields. Osgood & Co., Boston, p 620Google Scholar
  29. Heilbron M, Valeriano CM, Valladares CS, Machado N (1995) A Orogênese Brasiliana no segmento central da Faixa Riberia, Brasil. Rev Brasil Geocienc 25(4):249–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hekinian R, Juteau T, Gràcia E, Sichler B, Sichel S, Udintsev G, Apprioual R, Ligi M (2000) Submersible observations of equatorial Atlantic mantle: St. Paul fracture zone region. Mar Geophys Res 21:529–560Google Scholar
  31. Hesp PA, Maia LP, Claudino-Salles V (2009a) The Holocene Barriers of Maranhão, Piauí and Ceará States, Northeastern Brazil. In Dillenburg SF, Hesp PA (eds) Geology and geomorphology of Holocene coastal barriers of Brazil, 1st ed. Springer, New York, pp 325–345Google Scholar
  32. Hesp PA, Gianini, PCF, Martinho T, Miot da Silva G, Asp Neto N (2009b) The Holocene barrier systems of the Santa Catarina Coast, Southern Brazil. In: Dillenburg SF, Hesp PA (eds) Geology and geomorphology of Holocene coastal barriers of Brazil, 1st ed. Springer, New York, pp 93–133Google Scholar
  33. Hilbert NM, Guedes CCF, Gianini PCF (2015) Morphologic and sedimentologic patterns of active aeolian dune-fields on the east coast of Maranhão, northeast Brazil. Earth Surf Process Land 41:87–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hilbert NN, Guedes CCF, Giannini PCF (2016) Morphologic and sedimentologic patterns of active aeolian dunefields on the east coast of Maranhão, Northeast Brazil. Earth Surf Proc Land 41:87–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística) (1992) Atlas Nacional do BrasilIBGERio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  36. Imbrie J, Hayes JD, Martinson DG, Mcintyre A, Mix AC, Morley JJ, Pisias NG, Prell WL, Shackleton NJ (1984). The orbital theory of Pleistocene climate: support from a revised chronology of the marine δO18 record. In: Berger A et al (eds) Milankovitch & Climate, Part I. Riedel, pp 269–305Google Scholar
  37. Klein, AHF, Short AD (2016) Brazilian beach systems. Coastal Research Library, vol 17, Chap. 1. SpringerGoogle Scholar
  38. Leão Z, Kikuchi RKP, Ferreira BP, Neves EG, Sovierzoski HH, Oliveira MDM, Maida M, Correia MD, Jonhsson R (2016) Brazilian coral reefs in a period of global changes: a synthesis. Brazilian J Oceanogr 64:97–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Leão ZMAN, Kikuchi RKP, Testa V (2002) Coral and coral reefs of Brazil. In: Cortés J (ed) Latin American coral reefs. Elsevier Science BV, pp 9–52Google Scholar
  40. Lopes RP, Kinoshita A, Baffa O, Figueiredo AMG, Dillenburg SR, Schultz CL, Pereira JC (2014) ESR dating of Pleistocene mammals & marine shells from the coastal plain of Rio Grande do Sul state, southern Brazil. Quat Int 352:124–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Martinho CT, Dillenburg SR, Hesp PA (2009) Wave energy and longshore sediment transport gradients controlling barrier evolution in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. J Coast Res 25:285–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Motta VF (1969) Relatório Diagnóstico Sobre a Melhoria e o Aprofundamento do Acesso pela Barra do Rio Grande. Report of the Instituto de Pesquisas Hidráulicas. UFRGS, Porto AlegreGoogle Scholar
  43. Muehe D (1998) O litoral Brasileiro e sua compartimentação. In Cunha, SB e Guerra, AJT. Geografia Física do Brasil pp 273–349Google Scholar
  44. Paula JEB, Morais JO, Baptista EMC, Gomes ML, Pinheiro LS (2016) Piauí Beach systems. In Klein AF, Short AD (eds) Brazilian Beach Systems. Coastal Research Library, vol 17. Springer Nature, pp 152–174Google Scholar
  45. Pianca C, Mazzini PLF, Siegle E (2010) Brazilian offshore wave climate based on NWW3 reanalysis. Brazilian J Oceanogr 58(1):53–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pinheiro LS, Morais JO, Maia LP (2016) Beaches of Ceará. In Klein AF, Short AD (eds) Brazilian Beach Systems. Coastal Research Library, vol 17. Springer Nature, pp 175–200Google Scholar
  47. Pye K, Tsoar H (2009) Aeolian Sands and Sand Dunes. Springer, 395ppGoogle Scholar
  48. Rocha TB, Machado BA, Conceicao JS, Mello GS, Pereira TG, Fernandez GB (2018) Interação morfodinâmica entre praia e duna frontal no Delta do Rio Paraíba do Sul (RJ) a partir de uma década de monitoramento. Revista Brasileira de Geomorfologia 19:284–301Google Scholar
  49. Rohling EJ, Fenton M, Jorisson FJ, Bertrand P, Ganssen G, Caulet JP (1998) Magnitudes of sea-level lowstands of the past 500,000 years. Nature 394:162–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rosa MLCC, Barboza EG, Dillenburg SR, Tomazelli LJ, Ayup-Zouain RN (2011) The Rio Grande do Sul (southern Brazil) shoreline behavior during the Quaternary: a cyclostratigraphic analysis. J Coast Res, SI 64:686–690Google Scholar
  51. Rosa MLCC, Barboza EG, Abreu VS, Tomazelli LJ, Dillenburg SR (2017) High-frequency sequences in the quaternary of Pelotas Basin (coastal plain): a record of degradational stacking as a function of longer-term base-level fall. Braz J Geol 47(2):183–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rosseti DF, Bezerra FH, Dominguez JML (2013) Late Oligocene-Miocene transgressions along the equatorial and eastern margins of Brazil. Earth Sci Rev 13:87–112Google Scholar
  53. Santos VF, Short AD, Mendes AC (2016) Beaches of the Amazon Coast: Amapá and West Pará. In Klein AF, Short AD (eds) Brazilian Beach Systems. Coastal Research Library, vol 17. Springer Nature, pp 67–94Google Scholar
  54. Silveira, JD (1964) Morfologia do Litoral. In Brasil, a Terra e o Homem. Azevedo, A (ed.). São Paulo. 253–305Google Scholar
  55. Sousa RC, Pereira LCC, Silva NIS, de Oliveira SMO, Pinto KST, da Costa RM (2011) Recreational carrying capacity of three Amazon macrotidal beaches during the peak vacation season. J Coast Res 64:1292–1296Google Scholar
  56. Souza Filho PWM, Lessa GC, Cohen MCL, Costa FR, Lara RJ (2009) The subsiding macrotidal barrier estuarine system of the Eastern Amazon coast, Northern Brazil. In: Dillenburg SF, Hesp PA (eds) Geology and geomorphology of Holocene coastal barriers of Brazil, 1st edn. Springer, New York, pp 347–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tessler MG, Goya SC (2005) Processos condicionantes do litoral Brasileiro. Revista do Departamento de Geografia da USP 17:11–23Google Scholar
  58. Tomazelli LJ, Dillenburg SR (2007) Sedimentary facies & stratigraphy of a last interglacial coastal barrier in south Brazil. Mar Geol 244:33–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tomazelli LJ, Villwock JA (2000) O Cenozóico no Rio Grande do Sul: Geologia da Planície Costeira. In: Holz M, De Ros LF (eds) Geologia do Rio Grande do Sul. Edições CIGO/UFRGS, Porto Alegre, pp 375–406Google Scholar
  60. Tozzi HAM, Calliari LJ (2000) Morfodinâmica da Praia do Cassino, RS. Revista Pesquisas em Geociências 27:29–42Google Scholar
  61. Vicalvi MA, Costa MPA, Kowsmann RO (1978) Depressão de Abrolhos: uma paleolaguna holocênica da plataforma continental leste brasileira. Boletim Técnico da Petrobrás, Rio de Janeiro 21(4):279–286Google Scholar
  62. Villwock JA, Tomazelli LJ (1995) Geologia costeira do Rio Grande do Sul. Notas Técnicas, 8, Centro de Estudos de Geologia Costeira e Oceânica. Porto Alegre, 45 pGoogle Scholar
  63. Villwock JA, Tomazelli LJ, Loss EL, Dehnhardt EA, Horn Filho NO, Bachi FA, Dehnhardt BA (1986) Geology of the Rio Grande do Sul Coastal Province. In: Rabassa J (ed) Quaternary of South America and Antarctic Peninsula, vol 4. pp 79–97Google Scholar
  64. Vital H (2009) Mesotidal Barriers of Rio Grande do Norte. In: Dillenburg SF, Hesp PA (eds) Geology and geomorphology of Holocene coastal barriers of Brazil, 1st ed. Springer, New York, pp 289–324Google Scholar
  65. Vital H, Silveira IM, Tabosa WF, Lima ZMC, Lima-Filho FP, Souza ES, Chaves MS, Pimenta FM, Gomes MP (2016) Beaches of Rio Grande do Norte. In Klein AF, Short AD. (eds) Brazilian Beach Systems. Coastal Research Library, vol 17. Springer Nature, pp 201–232Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guilherme Borges Fernandez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thais Baptista da Rocha
    • 1
  • Eduardo Guimarães Barboza
    • 2
  • Sergio Rebello Dillenburg
    • 2
  • Maria Luiza Correa da Camara Rosa
    • 2
  • Rodolfo José Angulo
    • 3
  • Maria Cristina de Souza
    • 3
  • Luiz Henrique Sielski de Oliveira
    • 3
  • Jose Maria Landim Dominguez
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of GeographyFluminense Federal UniversityNiteróiBrazil
  2. 2.Institute of GeosciencesFederal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Department of GeologyFederal University of ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  4. 4.Department of SedimentologyFederal University of BahiaSalvadorBrazil

Personalised recommendations