Typomorphic varieties of magnetite in coastal sediments of the NW Japan Sea were distinguished by their contents of 11 trace elements: Ti, Mn, Cr, V, Ni, Co, Zr, Sn, Zn, Pb, Cu. Magnetite from principal magmatic complexes differing in composition and crystallization conditions were used as standard samples. The trace elements show that magnetite in sediments of the inlets near river mouths corresponds to that in rocks occurring in the basin of the rivers flowing into these inlets. Magnetite corresponding to that in rocks exposed on the coast and forming active cliffs indicates that these rocks supply abrasion material in the coastal zone. Different magnetite composition in modern nearshore sediments from that of relict shelf deposits is due to the more extensive provenance at sea-level low-stands during cold phases of the Late Pleistocene.