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1 January 2006 Tropical Cyclones and the Evolution of the Sedimentary Coast of Northern Australia
Jonathan Nott
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A considerable portion of the sedimentary coast of northern Australia is dominated by ridge plains (beach ridges) where the ridges are composed of coarse-grained sands and/or sand and beds of marine shells that rise above the limits of normal (fair weather and noncyclonic storms) wave run-up. Elsewhere, there exist ridge plains composed of lithic gravel, coral shingle, shell (cheniers), and, in one location, a ridge of pumice. These ridge sequences also lie above the zone of normal wave (noncyclonic) processes. There is little doubt that these ridges are deposited by waves and it is likely that only tropical cyclone-generated marine inundations are able to cause the necessary ephemeral rise in sea level in order to emplace them.

Tropical cyclones also cause substantial erosion of the coast. When the marine inundation (surge tide wave set-up waves wave run-up) or just wave run-up alone overtops coastal dunes (eolian) or ridges where they are unconsolidated, those dunes are eroded vertically and removed. At times, this can result in the deposition of sand sheets that extend inland for several hundreds of meters and taper in thickness landward. The sedimentary coast of northern Australia is composed therefore of a mosaic of landforms that represent the constant interplay between high-intensity, low-frequency events and processes and high-frequency, lower energy processes. The presence of numerous coastal landforms generated by tropical cyclones highlights the importance of recognizing the role of these events in policies concerning the management of coastal landscapes and also the reduction of hazard risks in this region.

Jonathan Nott "Tropical Cyclones and the Evolution of the Sedimentary Coast of Northern Australia," Journal of Coastal Research 2006(221), 49-62, (1 January 2006).
Received: 10 May 2005; Accepted: 10 May 2005; Published: 1 January 2006
beach ridge
dune erosion
sand coast
Tropical cyclone
wave-deposited sand sheet
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