Encyclopedia of Coastal Science

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

Barrier Island Formation and Development Modes

  • Ervin G. OtvosEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93806-6_362

Barrier Island Definition

Barrier islands are shore-parallel, wave-constructed, usually elongated nearshore landforms, surrounded at the time of their formation on all sides by subtidal water bodies and often capped by eolian beds. Passes (inlets) flank barriers and link lagoonal backbarrier basins to the open sea. However, even if their lagoon is drained during low tide stages (e.g., Frisian Islands, North Sea), the barrier designation of mesotidal islands is justified (Otvos 2018). Facing high wave energy and salinity condition on the ocean side, the islands act as barriers that protect low-energy brackish lagoons and bays associated with nutrient-rich muddy deposits. Wetlands may subsequently fill the shallow lagoons. Shifts in remotely-sensed vegetation communities prove to be sensitive indicators of even subtle topographic and geomorphic changes in the island interiors (Carter et al. 2018).

Traditional and proper barrier island definitions (e.g., Price 1951; Oertel 1985) exclude...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Coastal SciencesUniversity of Southern MississippiOcean SpringsUSA