Canada’s coasts, which are primarily rocky, extend along three oceans and four Great Lakes. Many processes operate here in the same way as in other places, but glacio-isostatic uplift, coastal permafrost and ground and sea ice assume particular importance in the Canadian context. Only small amounts of wave erosion have occurred on the very resistant rocks of the Canadian Shield, where rapid changes in relative sea-level have limited the time that marine processes operated at any particular level. The Pacific coast and most of the northern Atlantic coast consist of fiords and most steep coastal slopes have been cut by glaciers. Marine processes have been more effective on weaker substrates in southern Canada, where there are a variety of stacks, arches, wave-eroded cliffs and wide shore platforms. Most work has been conducted on the southern Great Lakes, where rapid erosion and recession of glacial clay cliffs threaten human populations and infrastructure, and on the subhorizontal and sloping shore platforms of Atlantic Canada and eastern Québec.
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Rocky landforms dominate large portions of the world's coast. Cliffs and shore platforms form spectacular landscapes, yet when compared to other landforms they are relatively unstudied with many contemporary controversies dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. The past decade has seen a reinvigoration of research driven by advances in technology that now enable precise measurements of erosion to the micron scale and quantification of wave energy onto and through cliff edifices to be made, as well as being able to directly date rock surfaces. In order to integrate this diverse range of research this volume's regional approach first integrates the latest data with longstanding theory and then analyses this research through the boundary conditions that exist in each area. The volume brings together the research leaders in the field; includes chapters on nearly all the major rock coasts of the world and identifies future research needs.