Coastal Plain Physiography Topics

1. Regional Setting
2. General Physiography
3. Beaches and Shores
Sea Level Changes
4. Special Features
• Introduction to Physiography
• Coastal Plain
• Piedmont
• Mesozoic Basins
• Blue Ridge
• Valley and Ridge
• Appalachian Plateaus
• Virginia's Rivers


Beaches and Shores, Part 5


Common environments found in Virginia's coastal areas are: marshes, bluffs, beaches, and barrier islands.


• Marshes form in well-protected areas that tides cover with water some of the time.  Marshes generally do not form where waves occur.

This is a small fringe marsh. Note the absence of wave activity. (Phtotograph courtesy of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

• The healthiest marshes appear to form in areas with slowly to moderately rising sea level.

• Marsh vegetation depends on water salinity.  The types of plants present in a tidal saltwater marsh will be very different from the types found in a tidal freshwater marsh.

Marsh vegetation depends on salinity and the amount of time per year that the marsh is under water. Left photograph is a marsh with cypress knees. The right photograph shows a tidal marsh on the Eastern Shore that is dominated by grasses. (Left photograph by Dave Hubbard; right photograph by Stan Johnson)

• Vegetation also depends on the amount of time during the year that an area is covered with water.