closure depth

Seaward extent of the changes in depth between winter (storm) and summer beach profiles; seaward extent of the shorerise.

coastal currents

Currents that flow roughly parallel to the shore and constitute a relatively uniform drift in waters seaward of the nearshore circulation. They may be tidal, transient wind-driven, or current associated with ocean current systems and their eddies.Seaward extent of the changes in depth between winter (storm) and summer beach profiles; seaward extent of the shorerise.

coastal zone

The zone of land and water centered on the shoreline and including the continental shelf, the nearshore, and the coast with its coastal plains and coastal mountains.


The boundary between land and water, esp. the water of a sea or ocean; a general term to describe the appearance or configuration of the land along a coast. Compare: shoreline, coastal zone.


Transformation of conceptual model into language used by an electronic computer.

collision coasts

Coasts that occur along active continental margins where two plates are in collision or impinging on each other. Morphologically, collision coasts have narrow shelves and are hilly and mountainous. Syn: leading-edge coasts.

conceptual model

An ensemble of processes that reproduce a natural response. It includes descriptions of processes ranging from ideas, text, schematic drawings, to block diagrams and how they interact.

contact load

Syn: beach face.

continental borderland

An area of the continental margin that is bathymetrically more complex than the continental shelf. It is characterized by ridges and basins.

continental margin

The ocean floor that is between the shoreline and the abyssal ocean floor, including various provinces: the continental shelf, continental slope, continental rise, and a continental borderland in areas of complex bathymetry. Collision and trailing-edge coasts are on active and passive continental margins respectively.

continental shelf

The part of the continental margin that is between the shoreline and the continental slope.

control cell

Subdivision of a littoral cell used to obtain the local sediment budget at a discrete place in the littoral cell. Compare: littoral cell.

coral reef coasts

The type of biogenic coast formed by algae and corals; typical of tropical waters surrounding land masses with low sediment yield.


(Coast) A small sheltered recess in a coast; it may afford anchorage for small craft.

critical mass

(Beach) The mass of sand required to maintain equilibrium beach shapes over a specified period of time, usu ranging from seasons to decades. Compare: equilibrium beach.

critical slope

The slope at which wave-induced onshore transport of sand ceases. The critical slope varies with depth and wave climate but for depths of about 15-20 m, with moderate wave climate, is about 1.5% (1.0 degree).

cryogenic coasts

Coasts where ice is a significant factor in their morphology. Typical examples are coasts facing the Arctic Ocean and those formed by continental glaciers, such as fiord coasts.


(Wave) A general term that includes notching and erosion of the sea cliff as well as abrasion of the platform by waves and surf. Compare: notch, platform, abrasion limit.