Encyclopedia of Coastal Science

2019 Edition
| Editors: Charles W. Finkl, Christopher Makowski


  • Eric BirdEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93806-6_26


A barrier (coastal barrier) is an elongated coastal ridge of deposited sediment built up by wave action above high tide level offshore or across the mouths of inlets or embayments.

Types of Barriers

A coastal barrier is usually backed by a lagoon or swamp, which separates it from the mainland or from earlier barriers. A barrier, thus defined, is distinct from a bar, which is submerged at least at high tide (Shepard 1952), and from reefs of biogenic origin (see  Coral Reefs). Most barriers consist of sand, but some contain gravel as well as sand, and others consist entirely of gravel (shingle: see  Gravel Barriers); marine shells (mainly mollusks) are major constituents of the Arabat barrier on the west coast of the Sea of Azov. Chesil Beach, on the south coast of England (Fig. 1), is a well-known shingle barrier, and similar features are seen on the southeast coast of Iceland and on the east and south coasts of South Island, New Zealand. Commonly the gravel has been derived...
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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia