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Abstract

Marine environments include anything seaward of the shoreline, the dividing line between land and water. All environments can be considered as either terrestrial (on land), marine (under water), or transitional (transitional between land and water). The transition zone between terrestrial and marine environments includes such environments as tidal flats, estuaries, dunes, and beaches and barrier islands. Beach features and processes are covered in another chapter of this volume (Bush and Young, this volume). Part of the beach system also belongs to the nearshore zone, so it is impossible to completely disassociate the beach/ transitional zone from the nearshore marine system. Standard beach terminology delineating the environmental zones of the nearshore system is shown in Figure 1.

To define the limits of the beach and the limits of the nearshore marine system, begin with the above water part of the beach, the part landward of the shoreline. This is known as the backshore, but is also often referred to as the dry beach, the recreational beach, or the subaerial beach. Looking seaward, the shallowest part of the beach is the intertidal zone, the portion between high tide and low tide. This is also known as the foreshore. Seaward of the foreshore is the inshore, commonly called the shoreface, the deeper water extent of the beach system. The shoreface is the zone where waves approaching land first start to interact with the seafloor. Another way to look at it is that the shoreface is the seaward extent of sediment movement

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