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Coastal Process Zones Interpreted from Acoustic Remote Sensing of Submarine Geomorphology: Southeast Florida Atlantic Continental Shelf

Syed M. Khalil, Charles W. Finkl


The southeast Florida Atlantic continental shelf is a mixed siliciclastic-carbonate shore that contains sandy beaches, marshes, estuaries, nearshore rock reefs, and shelf-edge barrier coral reef systems. Study of subaerial and submarine morphologies in a 45-km2 study area to an offshore depth of about 25 m identified numerous morphostructures that included dune, beach, shoreface and bar systems, sand waves, rock reefs, zetaform bays, patch reefs, barrier reefs, inter-reefal sand flats, and reef gaps. These morphostructures were used to interpret the spatial distributions of processes related to their development. Morphology and genesis were thus summarized in terms of nine coastal process zones. Integration of discrete mapping techniques such as bathymetric and geophysical surveys combined with DGPS and aerial photointerpretation provided a basis for depicting landforms and sedimentary architecture in terms of morphostructural mapping units. Mapping coastal morphostructures gives new insight into the typologies of coasts that affords better understanding of form-process relationships. The majority of sedimentary deposits in the study area fall into the category of Parabathic Biogenic Depositional Forms. The value of this approach lies in the ability to interpret the spatial distribution of morphostructures in terms of coastal process zones. These techniques are practical for large-scale investigation of coastal areas subject to shore erosion and protection.


Acoustic remote sensing, Beach, bar, coral reef, coastal geological framework, bathymetry, rock reef, coastal erosion.

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