Coastal Transportation

Coastal transport

Coastal transport forms part of the coastal processes approach. These coastal processes aim to build-up or break down the coastal zones. Subsequently, with the constant movement of waves, diverse materials become transported alongside significant distances. These distances can include thousands of kilometres. The movement of the different materials forms part of a balancing effect. The ocean remains flexible and continuously changes in format, ability, and strength to maintain a natural balance.

Coastal transport aligns with various factors related to external influences for example weather patterns. The more intensity one finds because of climate change, storms or other weather patterns, the more powerful your transportation levels become. Powerful weather occurrences play an important role in the ocean’s intensity transportation activities. 

The transportation of materials between the beaches, shorelines, and oceans create a majestic event of movement occurrences. These movements include the investment of significant energy resources by the natural environment. The stronger the storms, the more likely your waves carry different materials to specific spaces in the coastal zones.

The coastal zones continuously change because of transportation events. Many types of materials transported by the waves include big rocks or small pebbles. For us to gain an insight into the effects of coastal transport, we first need to understand what it means.

What is coastal transportation?

Coastal transportation relies significantly on the movement of different sediment stages and interaction levels between land and sea. The primary driver during coastal transportation involves wave activity. Waves added with storms, typhoons and tsunamis impact on the coastal transportation processes. Friction between the water and particles allows for physical changes to occur as well as the movement of sediments. The different natural interactions subsequently continue to change the outlook of our beach areas.

Coastal transportation work not only on its own but links to the other coastal processes inclusive of deposition, destructive and constructive waves as well as erosion occurrences. 

The coastal zone offers an interplay between different energy forces that causes sediment to rise or fall to the bottom. The constant water streams happen because of diverse gravitation and friction forces. These forces allow the sand, sediment and other particles to experience transportation over a significant distance. The constantly moving waters continue to change the geological outlook of the coastal zones. Moving water impacts on the ocean’s ability to transport sediment volumes and constantly change the spaces available to carry materials. The heavier the particles, the less likely the ocean can transport them or just drop them to the bottom of the sea. It also impacts on the water’s ability to move. 

The strength, frequency, and ability of the ocean to transport material became a significant scientific study for researchers. The frictional forces evident in the sea causes diverse physical occurrences. The question of coastal transportation relates to the different levels of movements and the manner it changes when reaching deeper areas. Another interesting aspect relates to the boundaries of coastal transportation and the impacts experienced by external forces.

The coastal zone remains evident in the interaction between sediment, rock particles, sand, and other molecules. These materials create an interaction between the water and materials that occur at the bottom of the sea. Many relations exist between the bottom level of sediments and the movement of these particles.

The ocean normally comprises different layers that present the surface and suspension layers as well as the suspended materials. A significantly concentrated layer of sediment particles occurs that experience stress from the moving waters. Just a limited change in movement impacts on the bottom layers, and they transfer energy to other spaces in the sea. The ocean bottom thickness plays a key role to determine the impacts of movement. The sediments also remain sensitive to the strength of the different waves.

A suspension layer normally occurs over an extensive area on top of the saltation level until it reaches the free bottom of the water column. This layer represents the longer-term sediment molecules. These materials stay longer than the actual wave. These sediments normally only move during a return current.

The transport of material adopts two different systems. One system where the surface presents different forms for example ripples. The other system relates to the event of a flat surface evident of different sediments. The different systems rely on the sediment, and material types and the energy carried by the waves.

Many types of coastal transport allow for the coastal processes to happen. Different physical changes continue to happen. Let us see what types of coastal transportation normally happens. 

Types of Coastal Transportation

Coastal transportation happens because of the movement of material on the seabed. The events of different powered waves cause the creation of longshore drift, and this phenomenon provides the process of transportation. The different elements that form part of the longshore drift include the following:

  • A solution that allows for sediments to dissolved and subsequently being carried by the ocean waters. Already dissolved material moves and becomes transported by the waves.
  • Saltation that allows for material at the shoreline and beaches to bound at the seafloor. These normally happen with small pebbles, particles, and stones that move around the ocean bottom.
  • Suspension of material and the subsequent transportation of these elements by the different waves. Suspension normally happens with the occurrences of fine material for example molecules and clay carried by sea.  
  • The traction that allows for the rolling of large rock particles or pebbled to move across the ocean bottom. Traction normally happens during the transportation of heavy objects that cannot dissolve in the sea water. 

What is the meaning of a Longshore Drift?

The Longshore drift occurs when the waves progress towards the shoreline areas using an angle. The swash continues to carry material up the beach areas. The backwash removes the material and returns to the ocean using right angles. The role of gravity remains significant to ensure the successful execution of these occurrences. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need coastal transportation? 

To allow for the build-up processes to continue, the ocean constantly needs to move material around. Some transportations also create the break-down of the coastal zones, but then the material becomes transported to another space. The movement of sediments, rocks, and materials plays a key role to form our beach areas.

What are the key elements in the coastal transportation process? 

The key elements include the waves, energy levels, and the subsequent availability of material. 

What types of material normally become transported by the sea? 

The materials transported by the sea include large boulders or rocks, refined material for example clay or sand, small particles and pebbles. Some material forms part of the suspension and other larger objects become part of the traction activities.

Where does the sea transport the material to? 

The direction of transportation depends on the material for transportation and the spaces available in the coastal zone areas. The waves transport the material and the sediment alongside the beach areas or moved to other areas on the ocean bottom. 

What happens to material collected by the waves? 

Materials collected by the waves become transported and deposited in other spaces. These spaces include the beach areas or other places at the ocean bottoms or layer spaces.


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  2. Sawczyński, Szymon & Kaczmarek, Leszek. (2014). Sediment transport in the coastal zone. Technical Sciences. 17. 165-180.
  3. Wigley, R. 2011. Geohazards in coastal areas. Council for Geoscience Report Number: 2011-0066