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USGS Geology in the Parks

National Park Research: Coastal Processes

Barrier Islands

Barrier Islands are composed of beach, dune, marsh/barrier flats, sheltered body of water, and similarly sheltered, flat coast, among other possible bits and pieces. They are generally formed in areas with a surplus of sediment and a current that pulls the sand into one place, or accretes it. Barrier Islands act as a buffer zone, protecting the shoreline from waves, ocean currents and the forces of storms. Below is a simplified cross section of a barrier island. Click on an area, or one of the terms above, that interests you in order to find out more about the system in general and which parks have research on those processes.

idealized barrier island cross-section clickable image map
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National Parks with Barrier Islands:

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