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A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, or lake. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles, waves or cobblestones. The particles of which the beach is composed can sometimes instead have biological origins, such as shell fragments or coralline algae fragments.

Wild beaches are beaches which do not have lifeguards or trappings of modernity nearby, such as resorts and hotels. They are sometimes called undeclared, undeveloped or undiscovered beaches. Wild beaches can be valued for their untouched beauty and preserved nature. They are most commonly found in less developed areas such as Puerto Rico, Thailand or Indonesia.

Beaches often occur along coastal areas where wave or current action deposits and reworks sediments.



Although the seashore is most commonly associated with the word "beach", beaches are found by the sea, oceans, or lakes.

The term 'beach' may refer to:

  • small systems in which the rock material moves onshore, offshore, or alongshore by the forces of waves and currents; or
  • geological units of considerable size.

The former are described in detail below; the larger geological units are discussed elsewhere under bars.

There are several conspicuous parts to a beach which relate to the processes that form and shape it. The part mostly above water (depending upon tide), and more or less actively influenced by the waves at some point in the tide, is termed the beach berm. The berm is the deposit of material comprising the active shoreline. The berm has a crest (top) and a face — the latter being the slope leading down towards the water from the crest. At the very bottom of the face, there may be a trough, and further seaward one or more longshore bars: slightly raised, underwater embankments formed where the waves first start to break.

The sand deposit may extend well inland from the berm crest, where there may be evidence of one or more older crests (the storm beach) resulting from very large storm waves and beyond the influence of the normal waves. At some point the influence of the waves (even storm waves) on the material comprising the beach stops, and if the particles are small enough (sand size or smaller) , winds shape the feature. Where wind is the force distributing the grains inland, the deposit behind the beach becomes a dune.

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