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 8

Environments (continued)

Barrier Islands

• Barrier islands or barrier spits are long, narrow strips of sediment that separate the sea from a bay or lagoon.  Barrier islands are surrounded by water, whereas barrier spits are attached to the mainland.

Aerial view of barrier islands along Virginia’s coast.  Several barriers are found along the ocean side of the Eastern Shore. (Image courtesy of NASA)

• Barrier islands may be broken by tidal inlets.

Aerial view of Rudee Inlet at Virginia Beach (above).  Strong tidal currents caused by flood and ebb tides (or high and low tides) move much sediment through this and other tidal inlets. (Figure courtesy of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

• Barrier islands are popular tourist sites because they frequently have long sandy beaches that attract and can accommodate large numbers of visitors.

• Shoreline management of barrier islands is an important issue.