Coastal Morphology and Processes

Peter N. Adams

University of Florida
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


This class is focused on quantitative investigations into the origin/evolution of coastal landforms and the physical processes responsible for their creation and modification. We will cover the following topics: geomorphic classification of coasts, sediment description and analysis, sea level fluctuation, tides, generation and transformation of waves, wave breaking, nearshore currents, cross-shore sediment transport, longshore sediment transport, coastal morphodynamics, and human-coastal interactions.

Course URL:
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Course Context:

This is an upper-division undergraduate course that is also taken for credit by graduate students. The course requires that students have had physical geology and college-level physics (mechanics). The course meets for 3 contact hours per week and requires participation in a weekend field trip to the Florida Atlantic coast.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to predict the general behavior of wave transformation given the deep water conditions and the bathymetry.

Students should be able to evaluate magnitude and direction of nearshore currents as well as an estimate of longshore sediment transport rate.
Students should be able to asses beach morphology in the context of wave dissipation or reflection.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students collect data on offshore wave conditions (from the web), bathymetry (from DEMs), apply Linear Airy wave theory from lectures, and measure beach profiles during the field trip.

Skills Goals

quantitative abilities
critical analysis of web sites
oral communication

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Through the course exercises using web resources (google earth for coastal planform morphology, and wave data websites), students are focused toward analyzing "real" data, interpreting it within the context of the course, and conveying their findings to the class through short oral presentations.

Attitudinal Goals

I'm interested in learning about how other participants have successfully influenced student attitude about learning.


Traditional assessment right now: 4 "short" quizzes (one every 3 weeks) that focus on essay style answers to explain a concept and working through problems. One final exam, of the same style as the quizzes. Numerous problem sets focusing on calculations of rates and landform change. One final project in which the students use field data they have collected to categorize a beach in light of the imposed wave climate.


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 56kB Jul26 08)