Planview Geometry and morphological characteristics of pocket beaches on the Catalan coast (Spain)

D. Bowman, J. Guillén, L. López, V. Pellegrino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Coastal planform studies are a relevant initial stage before launching detailed dynamic field experiments. The aim of this study is to define the planform characteristics of 72 Catalan pocket beaches, natural and man-made, and to determine their sheltering effect, embaymentization and their status of equilibrium. Planform measurements were performed on SIGPAC, 1:5000 orthophoto sets and wave climate was provided by Puertos del Estado (Wana model). Planform parameters were applied and coastal planview indexes were determined. The study shows that the Catalan pocket beaches display a wide range of indentation, suggesting that no single structural, tectonic or morphological control dominates their planform. The man-made pocket beaches typically display indentations which are smaller than those shown by natural pocket beaches. Headland spacing and beach area are positively correlated. The more indented bays are, the shorter their beaches become. Low-indented pocket beaches are the widest and the longest ones. Deep indentation contributes towards beach protection and energy dissipation which counteracts rip efficiency and inhibits the formation of mega-rips. Pocket beaches often show gradual and moderate alongshore changes in texture and beach morphology. One third of the Catalan pocket beaches are "sediment starved", i.e., 60% and more of their embayed shorelines are deprived of beach sediments. Examination of the status of equilibrium demonstrates that most of the Catalan pocket beaches are in an unstable mode, with indentation ratios that are unrelated to the wave obliquity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2009


  • Catalan coast
  • Pocket beach
  • Spain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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