How to Read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach: A Guide to Shadow Dunes, Ghost Forests, and Other Telltale Clues from an Ever-Changing Coast

How to Read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach: A Guide to Shadow Dunes, Ghost Forests, and Other Telltale Clues from an Ever-Changing Coast

by Tonya Clayton

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807872185
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 04/02/2012
Series: Southern Gateways Guides
Edition description: 1
Pages: 228
Sales rank: 826,214
Product dimensions: 2.30(w) x 2.70(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Tonya Clayton is a freelance science writer and editor.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Florida's Gulf Coast: A Region to Savor 3

A Feast of Beaches 3

The Northwest Barrier Chain: Big Dunes and Sugar Sands 3

The Big Bend Coast: Marsh, Marsh, Everywhere 6

The West-Central Barrier Chain: World-Class Diversity 7

The Southwest Mangrove Coast: Forest Mazes and Shell Beaches 7

Movers and Shapers 8

Tectonic Setting 9

Sand Supply 10

Waves and Tides 10

Local Geological History 11

Climate and Weather 12

Sea Level 13

2 Reading the Landscape: A Bird's-Eye View 16

Getting to Know the Neighborhood 16

Reading the Landscape 22

A Dynamic Equilibrium 23

Recarved Shorelines: Direct Human Influence 25

The Great Coastal Conveyer Belt: Longshore Transport 25

Of Passes and Prisms 28

Hot Dogs, Drumsticks, and Other Telling Shapes: Waves vs. Tides 31

"The Sea Has Swept Entirely across the Island": Hurricanes and Other Major Storms 35

3 Shorelines in Motion 40

Changes 40

Signs of a Moving Shoreline 41

Signs of an Advancing (Moving Seaward) Shoreline 41

Signs of a Retreating (Moving Landward) Shoreline 48

Barrier-Island Life Cycles 52

An Island Is Born 52

Island Demise 55

Islands in Midlife 57

Islands High and Low 59

Life in a Warming World: Shoreline Migration since the Great Ice Age 60

4 Dunes 64

Watching the Winds of Change 64

Recipe for a Dune 65

Wind Shadows, Green Anchors, and Other Dune Features 71

When Wave Meets Dune 78

Coastal Dune Lakes: Only in the Panhandle 81

5 Beaches 84

Beach or No Beach? 84

Waves 85

How Tall, How Wide? 85

Spilling and Ripping 89

Tides, Etc. 91

On the Beach 94

Rhythms of the Beach 99

Withdrawals and Deposits 100

El Niño and La Niña 101

The Bermuda High 102

Sea Level 103

Beach Life Lived Large 103

6 Ephemera 105

Wind Flow 105

Raindrops 109

Ripple Marks 111

Rill Marks 115

Airholes 116

Marks of the Swash Zone 120

Footprints 124

Lebensspuren 124

Lightning Tubes 125

Life in the Wrack Line 126

Black Gold 130

Beach Life: A Benthic Trio 134

7 Sand 136

Mineral Grains: Quartz and Other Long-Timers 136

Sands of Life: The Biogenic Fraction 142

Size, Sorting, and Color 145

Specialty Sands 147

Beach Life: Meiofauna 153

8 Beach Remodeling 155

Hard Structures 155

Seawalls and Kin 156

Breakwaters 158

Groins and Jetties 160

Sand Placement 163

Artificial Dunes 167

Beach Scraping 169

Beach Tilling and Beach Raking 170

Innovative Technologies 171

Seaside Evolution 172

9 Challenges and Opportunities 173

Beach Happenings: How Much? How Big? How Long? How Fast? 173

Disturbance 173

Scale 174

Rate 175

Sandy Beach Ecosystems 175

Epilogue: Read Your Beaches 188

Acknowledgments 191

Beach Words 193

Suggested Readings 197

Index 201

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

In her fun and engaging book, Tonya Clayton leads the uninitiated beach lover through an explanation of how the Florida Gulf Coast beaches work. With her original voice and clear explanations, Clayton brings visitors, homeowners, and voters to a nuanced understanding of the processes that shape this stretch of coastline.—Joseph T. Kelley, University of Maine



Tonya Clayton shows you how to read the natural and man-made shapes and textures of Florida's Gulf beaches, dunes, and islands like a tracker reads animal signs in the wild. You'll be eager to go straight to the nearest beach to immerse yourself in your new, richer understanding of your favorite beaches. This is the book I've been waiting for!—David McRee, "The BeachHunter," Florida beach expert and blogger

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How to Read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach: A Guide to Shadow Dunes, Ghost Forests, and Other Telltale Clues from an Ever-Changing Coast 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I quickly start digging.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(We moved to ocean beach.)+Geckostar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wide range of beginning information and photos make it easy to understand the topics covered.