Intro and Overview of Coastal Environment  p.1-24

1. Understand the main issues confronting man in the coastal environment.

2. Understand the dynamic equilibrium at the coast, with air, water, and sediment constantly in motion.

3. Understand the different positions of coastal engineers and geologists in the "shoreline debate".

4. Discuss the problems in classifying coasts.

5. Know the role of the Shore Protection Manual (SPM) and why it is published by the Corps of Engineers.


Wave hydrodynamics  & Intermediate waves   p.25-43 (Skim) ignoring math, and see the Course Help File

1.  Discuss the variables in the wave climate (T,Ho,ao).

2.  Discuss the assumptions of wave theory important for coastal processes.

3.  Discuss wave generation and decay.

4.  Calculate wave length, celerity, and wave height for waves approaching the shore, using linear wave theory and a table of d/Lo.


Waves at coast        p.43-77

1. Discuss wave processes including refraction, reflection, and diffraction.

2. Discuss the processes involved in wave shoaling and calculate the shoaling coefficient.

3. Discuss the process of wave breaking and the different types of breakers, and calculate the depth at which waves should break.


Wave refraction

1. Calculate wave refraction and the refraction coefficient.

2. Use Snell's Law to calculate refraction.

3. Discuss the interplay of shoaling and refraction to change a wave's height and energy.


Littoral currents     p.77-82

1. Discuss the generation of longshore currents.

2. Discuss the role of rip currents in the nearshore environment.

3. Discuss the variables in the Longuet-Higgins equation, and use the equation to calculate the longshore current.


Sediment transport    p.82-97

1.  Describe fluid flow in the boundary layer, and the relationship between flow velocity and bed shear stress.

2.  Differentiate shear velocity, shear stress, and true velocity, and their critical values.

3.  Discuss the initiation of motion for sediment.

4.  Discuss the bedforms produced by moving water, and their variation with grain size and flow velocity.

5.  Discuss selective grain movement under wave crests and troughs, and its implications for sediment sorting.

6.  Differentiate longshore and onshore-offshore transport of sand.


Morphodynamics        p.99-133

1. Discuss the dissipative to reflective beach continuum.

2. Discuss the parts of a beach profile, and how they vary with the seasons.

3. Discuss the role of bars in a beach profile.

4. Discuss the role of sediment size on beach profiles.


Lithified coasts      p.134-149

1.  Discuss the characteristics and processes acting on shoreline cliffs.

2.  Describe the feedback loop relating PL, PN, undercutting, and toe armoring.

3. Discuss the rates of cliff erosion, and the difficulty in calculating them.


Tides                 p.151-164

1. Discuss the effects of tides in shallow water

2. Discuss the development of tidal asymmetry in shallow water.

3. Classify tides as micro-, meso-, and macrotidal.

4. Discuss the development of a tidal surge.


Bays, lagoons             p.164-192

1. Discuss sediment transport in bay and mud flats, using Postma's model.

2. Discuss the roles of barrier islands, lagoons, and tidal passes.

3. Describe the types of lagoon based on water flow.

4. Discuss the migration of tidal passes.


Estuaries                 p.164-192

1. Discuss the types of estuaries and the basis for their classification.

2. Discuss sedimentation in estuaries, with consideration of the null point and turbidity maximum.

3. Discuss river mouths.

4. Discuss delta classification in terms on river, tide, and wave processes.


Lake coasts               p.192-198

1. Discuss how wind affects lake shape.

2. Calculate seiche periods in lakes.

3. Describe the problems on the Great Lake coastline, especially the large fluctuations in water level.


Long term dynamics        p.199-218

1. Discuss the importance of cells in coastal processes, using the May and Tanner model.

2. Discuss the types of cell boundary (Pulse, meet, divide).

3. Differentiate lake, embayment, and spits cells.

4. Discuss the formation of zeta bays and spits.


Sediment budgets          p.218-244

1. Discuss the sediment budget in general terms with the three major categories considered.

2. Explain the following sediment sources: rivers, shoreline erosion, transport from offshore, wind, carbonate productions, and beach replenishment.

3. Explain the following sediment sinks: inlets and lagoons, overwash, dune storage, offshore slopes, submarine canyons, deflation, carbonate loss, and mining and dredging.

4.  Discuss the effects of storms on sand budgets.

5.  Discuss beach grading, and the mechanisms by which it occurs.


Sea level changes         p.245-279

1.  Discuss the processes responsible for sea level change, in long-term, medium-term, and short-term tide periods.

2.  Discuss the global and regional effects of sea level changes.

3.  Discuss the effects on the coast line of sea level changes.

4.  Discuss the evidence for long term, significant sea level rise.

5.  Discuss the measures man can take to reduce the impact of sea level changes.

6.  Know the current rate of sea level rise, and the magnitude of the rise over the past 10,000 years.

7.  Key terms: Bruun rule


Sand properties I  & II   SPM Handout

1.  Know sediment size classification on the Wentworth scale, and its relation to the USC scale.

2.  Understand grading, sorting, and mineralogical composition for beach sediments.

3.  Calculate mean, median, standard deviation, and skewness for sediments with lognormal distributions.

4.  Graph and interpret sediment size analyses.

5.  Understand the advantages and disadvantages for methods of grain size analysis.

6.  Know the phi scale and be able to convert between phi units and mm.


Dunes                     p.301-333

1.  Discuss the origins and physical properties of dunes.

2.  Describe the relict nature of many dunes.

3.  Discuss the differences in sediment motion under the wind compared to water.

4. Discuss dune ecology and plant communities.


Wetlands                  p.335-354

1. Discuss sedimentation, hydrography, and vegetation in salt marshes.

2. Discuss physical characteristics of mangroves/mangals and their ecology.

3. Know the dominant salt marsh plant Spartina.


Management                p.355-381

1. Discuss the demands humans place on the coastline.

2. Describe how human goals for the coast can be compatible or conflicting.

3. Contrast the U.S. and U.K. models for managing coastal resources.

4. Know where private property starts on U.S. beaches.


Management of waters      p.383-429

1.  Discuss problems of fresh water supply in coastal regions.

2.  Discuss sewage disposal in coastal waters.

3.  Discuss solid waste disposal in coastal waters.

4.  Discuss coastal waters as a source of wave and tide power.

5.  Discuss the potential of coastal locations for siting power plants and drilling for oil and gas.

6.  Discuss the problems of access and public safety in managing coastal waters for recreation.


Management of sediments   p.431-486

1. Discuss the rates of coastal erosion.

2. Discuss the economics of protecting coastal property, and who pays for whose benefits.

3. Understand what man can do to protect the shore: seawalls, breakwaters (plus revetments and bulkheads), groins, jetties, and beach restoration/  replenishment/nourishment.

4. Discuss the ways coastal engineering projects fail.

5. Use a diffraction diagram to calculate diffraction behind a breakwater.

6. Key terms: anchor and terminal groins, design lifetime


Ecosystems                p.281-299

1. Discuss reef communities.

2. Discuss seaweed-based ecoystems.

3. Discuss beach ecosystems.


Management of ecosystems  p.487-528

1. Discuss the uses, degradation, and management of dunes.

2. Discuss marsh practices, destruction, management, and reclamation.


Hazards                   p.529-559

1. Discuss statistical vulnerability to hurricanes or typhoons.

2. Discuss management of storm hazards.

3. Discuss tsunamis.

4. Discuss the special problems of hazard management in developing countries.



1. Complete survey notes for a beach survey.

2. Recognize coastal landforms on topographic maps or satellite imagery.

3. Use a diffraction diagram to calculate diffraction behind a breakwater.

4. Use the modified SMB chart with fetch, wind speed, and duration to calculate significant wave height and period. Determine the limiting factor for wave generation in a given situation using the SMB curves.