littoral drift

Littoral means of or pertaining to the shore, and littoral drift is material moved along a beach by a littoral current, a current carried by waves breaking at an angle to the shoreline and moving parallel to and adjacent to the shoreline within the surf zone. Littoral drift is, then, the material waves and wind work to shape coastlines, depositing and rearranging the sand, rock, gravel, bits of shell, and other debris to form shoals, spits, bars, and beaches. One example of a high-littoral-drift zone is California’s Santa Cruz Harbor, where up to 327,000 cubic yards of drift is deposited each year, enough to cover a football field to a depth of 184 feet.

Gretchen Legler