What is a Beach?

What is a Beach?


What is a Beach?

To the casual visitor, the beach is a seemingly permanent area of sand on which to walk or place a towel for an afternoon. But for those who visit the beach more frequently, the changes in the shape and size of the beach are more obvious.

During stormy periods when the waves are large the beach adapts to absorb the incredible amount of energy released by the pounding waves. During calmer periods the beach returns to itís fair weather state. And every day the beach must adjust to changing water levels caused by the tide, which in this area can be as much as 8 feet between its daily highs and lows.

In some areas like the Santa Clara rivermouth the beach can grow during rainy periods when the river delivers new sand from the mountains to the coast. Other areas that have been cut off from a sand supply can rapidly disappear, just as Port Hueneme beach did this past summer.

The beach exists in a continually changing state of "dynamic equilibrium" that depends on four factors: the size of the waves, changes in sea level relative to the land, the shape of the beach, and the beach sand supply. When any one of these factors changes, the others adjust accordingly.


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