What is a Barrier Island?

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

A barrier island is a long, narrow island that runs parallel to the mainland coast. It is separated from the mainland by a body of water, such as a lagoon, or a sound which  is a relatively narrow body of water between the mainland and an island. Barrier islands are formed by sediment that is transported by waves and currents from the mainland. They protect the mainland from erosion and storm surge.

barrier island

Waves carry a variety of materials such as sand,rock, dead corals and shells. In addition, longshore currents transport and deposit this material. A longshore current is a result of how the waves strike the beach. Most waves approach the beach at a slight angle and retreat perpendicular. This action creates longshore currents that move in a direction parallel to the shore.

longshore current

These longshore currents can transport and deposit materials offshore and may over a period of time create a landform offshore like a  barrier island.The largest barrier island in the world is Padre Island of Texas, United States, at 113 miles (182 km) long

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