Short-Term Assessment of Retreating vs. Advancing Microtidal Beaches Based on the Backshore/Foreshore Length Ratio: Examples from the Basilicata Coasts (Southern Italy)


A straightforward conceptual method is proposed to quantitatively assess the seasonal-scale tendency of retreatment or advancement on microtidal beaches by using the backshore/foreshore length ratio. This method is based on measuring the cross-shore profile of a beach when it passes through the “transitional state” that separates the high-from the low-energy season, period during which the morphological characteristics of the beach tend to its equilibrium profile. In order to obtain real measurements of backshore (B) and foreshore (F), the definition of the limits bounding these two important components in subaerial beaches is reviewed and discussed. The approach based on the measurement of the B/F length ratio assumes that foreshore and backshore have equivalent lengths in beaches that approximate to their state of morphodynamic equilibrium (B/F ~ 1). A backshore length exceeding the foreshore length is indicative of a state of beach recession, with a B/F length ratio > 1. When the foreshore length is greater than the backshore length, the shoreline is advancing or, alternatively, it is developing in a state of morphological confinement, i.e. due to the presence of a sea cliff, with a B/F < 1. This practical method is then tested against 36 sand and gravel microtidal beach profiles measured along the coasts of Basilicata, in southern Italy. The various “beach states” are summarised into seven classes (I-VII), each identified from specific value intervals of the B/F length ratio.

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Longhitano, S. (2015) Short-Term Assessment of Retreating vs. Advancing Microtidal Beaches Based on the Backshore/Foreshore Length Ratio: Examples from the Basilicata Coasts (Southern Italy). Open Journal of Marine Science, 5, 123-145. doi: 10.4236/ojms.2015.51011.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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