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Wave Erosion and Coastal Processes
Water causes erosion and deposition along coastlines, but in a way that is different from rivers. Instead of energy moving in one direction at a fairly constant rate, waves pound the shoreline with great intensity. Sand carried by the water scours the beach, and forms numerous depositional features.
  File name Description (click on thumbnail pics to see full-sized image)
Sea Cave and Headland Just south of Mendocino along the Northern California coastline. Exposures are typical Franciscan Complex rocks of Mesozoic age, which formed in the accretionary wedge of a subduction zone.
Cave in a sea cliff at Mendocino Sea Cave Crashing waves exploit joints and fractures in the rocks to carve caves into the wave-cut cliffs. The longest caves in California are hundreds of feet long. This one is located south of Mendocino in Northern California.
Fault line in wave-cut cliff Fault line in wave-cut cliff Wave cut cliffs form as waves erode the base of  a slope, leading to rock falls and slumps, which shape the cliffs. Geological relationships are well exposed on the constantly renewed cliff faces. Here, a fault has split the rocks in the Franciscan Complex. They are exposed near Mendocino along the Northern California coastline.
Sea stack and wave cut cliffs Sea Stack and Wave-cut Cliffs Sea stacks are isolated rocks and small islands formed as sea arches collapse, or as headlands with weaker areas of rock are eroded. These cliffs and the sea stack are in the vicinity of Fort Bragg on the Northern California Coast.
Sea cave Sea Cave Sea caves form as waves exploit weaker rocks along headlands. A fault may have been present at this cave along the Northern California coastline near Fort Bragg.
Sea Cave A sea cave just south of Mendocino on the Northern California coast.
Sea Arch and Sea Cave Sea Arch and Sea Cave Sea arches occur as headlands are undercut. A sea cave is a longer version of an arch. One is visible beyond and to the left of the arch. These are found along the Northern California coast near Fort Bragg.
Sea arch Sea Arch Another sea arch on the Northern California coastline near Fort Bragg.
Sea cliff and sea stacks Headlands, Wave-cut Cliffs and Sea Stacks Wave-cut cliffs, sea stacks and a headland south of Mendocino in Northern California.
Wave cut cliff Wave-cut Cliffs and Sea Stacks Wave-cut cliffs and sea stacks south of Mendocino along the Northern California Coast.
Wave-cut Cliff, Cove, Terrace An uplifted marine terrace at Half Moon Bay in Central California. Note the wave cut cliff with two distinct rock layers, an upper horizontal layer and a lower set of tilted sediments. The indented part of the coast is a cove, where sand tends to accumulate due to lesser wave energy.
Wave cut cliff, Cove and Terrace Another cove and terrace at Half Moon Bay in Central California
Wave Erosion and Riprap Vigorous winter waves cut at the base of shoreline cliffs and any developments we put on them. Here, an access stairway has been undercut by wave erosion. The large boulders put here to stabilize the slope are called riprap.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
   
   
   

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