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Landforms (Shoreforms)

Not all Puget Sound shorelines look the same. Some are rocky, some are sandy. Some are steep bluffs and rocky cliffs, others are broad salt marshes or tide flats. These differences reflect the geology of the coastline and the way in which it has been shaped by waves and tides.

Puget Sound shorelines can be generally divided into four different types: Rocky coasts, bluffs and beaches, smaller embayments, and large river deltas. Within each of these broad categories, there may be a variety of smaller landforms (sometimes called shoreforms). Embayments include a variety of lagoons and estuaries. Beaches include barrier beaches such as spits. These landforms are shaped by tidal processes and geomorphic proc-esses such as the erosion and deposition of sediment. The different land-forms may give rise to very different ecological processes and functions.

Rocky Coasts
  Plunging rocky coast Rocky platform coast
Plunging Platforms
Pocket beach  
Pocket Beaches  
  Bluff - beach Beach
Bluffs Barriers
  Open coastal inlet Barrier lagoon
Open Coastal Inlets Barrier Lagoon
Lagoon Barrier Estuary
Closed Lagoons
& Marshes
Barrier Estuary
Large River Deltas
  River-dominated delta Wave-dominated delta
River-dominated deltas Wave dominated deltas
Fan delta  
Fan deltas Tide-dominated delta

A Geomorphic Classification of Puget Sound Nearshore Landforms

A Geomorphic Classification of Puget Sound Nearshore Landforms

(PDF, 1 MB)

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Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project
Updated July 2016