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Velika plaža Ulcinj
Velika plaža (Long Beach) is a beach municipality near Ulcinj (Montenegro, Črna Gora). It stretches from Port Milena/Ulcinj to Bojana River. The sand beach's length is 12.000 meters (8 miles), it is one of the longest beaches in Europe and the longest beach in Montenegro. Velika plaža is natural asset of Montenegro that the government hopes to see developed as part of the country's tourism strategy, albeit in an environmentally friendly manner. The vast hinterland of the beach is mostly undeveloped, so it is potentially the biggest greenfield investment on Montenegrin coast.
A beach is a landform along a body of water, e. g. along the sea. It usually consists of loose particles, which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles, or cobblestones. The particles comprising a beach are occasionally biological in origin, such as mollusc shells or coralline algae.
There are several conspicuous parts to a beach that relate to the processes that form and shape it. The part mostly above water (depending upon tide), and more or less avtively influenced by the waves at some point in the tide, is called the beach berm. The berm is the deposit of material comprising the active shoreline. The berm has a crest (top) and a face - the latter being the slope leading downwards toward the water from the crest. At the very bottom of the face, there may be a trough, and further seaward one or more longshore bars: slightly raised, underwater embakments formed where the waves first start to break.The sand deposit may extend well inland from the berm crest, where there may be evidence of one or more older crests (the storm beach) resulting from very large storm waves and beyond the influence of the normal waves.
At some point the influence of the waves (even storm waves) on the material comprising the beach stops, and if the particles are small enough (sand size or smaller), winds shape the feature. Where wind is the force distributing the grains inland, the deposit behind the beach becomes a dune.
These geomorphic features compose what is called the beach profile. The beach profile changes seasonally due to the change in wave energy experienced during summer and winter months. The beach profile is higher during the summer due to the gentle wave action during this season. The lower energy waves deposit sediment on the beach berm and dune, adding to the beach profile.
The shape of a beach depends on whether or not the waves are constructive or destructive, and whether the material is sand or shingle. Constructive waves move the material up the beach while destructive waves move the material down the beach. On sandy beaches, the backwash of the waves removes material forming a gently sloping beach. On shingle beaches the swash is dissipated because the large particle size allows percolation, so the backwash is not very powerful, and the beach remains steep.
Generaly beaches are wave-deposited accumulations of sediment located at the shoreline. They require a base to reside on, usually the bedrock geology, waves to shape them, sediment to form them, and most are also affected by tides. The beach extends from the wave base where waves begin to feel bottom and shoal, across the nearshore zone, through the surf zone to the upper limit of wave swash. The sediments forming the beach may be derived from the land and delivered via rivers, glaciers and shoreline erosion, or from marine organisms in the sea.
The four sections of most beaches.
- Swash zone: is alternately covered and exposed by wave run-up.
- Beach face: sloping section below berm that is exposed to the swash of the waves.
- Wrack line: the highest reach of the daily tide where organic and inorganic debris is deposited by wave action.
- Berm: Nearly horizontal portion that stays dry except during extremely high tides and storms. May have sand dunes.
Coastal dunes form where the beach is wide enough to allow for the accumulation of wind-blown sand, and where prevailing onshore winds tend to blow sand inland.
At the most basic level, dunes can be divided into those that form from the direct supply of sediment from the beach face (primary dunes), and those that form from the subsequent modification of primary dunes (secondary dunes). Depending on the characteristics and availability of the sediment supply, dominant wind velocity and direction, moisture and vegetation present, and the geomorphology of the nearshore and beach face, dunes of various size and morphology are formed. Sand deposition, accretion, and erosion within the coastal environment result in the development of a variety of dune morphologies. However, a general classification into primary and secondary dunes can be made.
Primary dunes are defined as dunes with a sand supply derived primarily from the beach. They are the dunes closest to the shoreline and are significantly influenced by wave action as both a constructional and erosional force.
Foredunes develop at the rear of the backshore environments, landward of the active beach. Secondary dunes are the result of the subsequent modification of the primary dunes by aeolian processes, they are generally located further inland.
Areas of the coast that comprise coastal dunes are often areas that undergo significant human modification due to agricultural and urban development, as well as tourism and recreational activities.
The sand of beaches and dunes often shows ripple marks (wind ripples), these are sedimentary structures indicating the agitation by wind. Aeolian processes form different types of ripple marks. Normal ripples, also known as impact ripples, occur in the lower part of the lower flow regime sands with grain sizes between 0.3 to 2.5 mm. They have straight or slightly sinuous crests approximately transverse to the direction of the wind and form wavelengths of 7 to 14 cm. Megaripples occur in the upper part of the lower flow regime with bimodal particle size. They form long wavelengths of 1 to 25 m where the wind is not strong enough to move the larger particles but strong enough to move the smaller grains. Fluid drag ripples (aerodynamic ripples) are formed with fine, well-sorted grain particles accompanied by high velocity winds which result in long, flat ripples.
Your task to log this earthcache as found:
Answer the following questions in your own words and send me the answers via message to my profile:
1.) Take a look on the shape of the beach - is it gently sloping or steep? According to the text above - explain the reasons for the shape of the beach!
2.) What is the most common size of sediments on this beach - sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles, or cobblestone? Describe the loose particles!
3.) When you take a closer look to the sediments, what do you think, do they originate from marine organisms or from the land, delivered via a river?
4.) Give me a short description of the coastal dunes - what type of dunes can be observed according to the text?
5.) Can you observe any ripple marks? How have they been formed?
6.) Optional: If you like, you are warmly invited to add a picture of you / your GPS at the location to the log!
You can log immediately after you sent me the answers! There is no need to wait for a log permission! I'll contact you if there's something wrong.
Have fun and enjoy!
Bascom, W. (1980): Waves and Beaches. New York, Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City.
Short, A. D. (2012): Coastal Processes and Beaches. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10): 15.
Sloss, C. R., Shepherd, M. & Hesp, P. (2012): Coastal Dunes: Geomorphology. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10): 2.
All pictures were taken by the author.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum