Spit - Coastal Feature

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What is Spit Coastal Feature?

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The spit coastal feature or the spit geography is largely formed by the deposition of sediments like the sand by the huge water bodies such as the oceans or seas. It is usually a sandpit, a type of deposition bar forming a part of the beach landform off the coasts or the shores of the lakes. The spit geography is developed at places where there is re-entrance of the water from the water bodies like the cove’s headlands. This is generally aided by the process of longshore drift carried by the longshore currents. The drift generally occurs when the waves meet the beach at an oblique angle and move the sediment down the beach in a zigzag pattern.

Factors Affecting the Spit Geography Definition

It is clear that spit geography is formed from the deposition of sediments by the longshore currents carrying a longshore drift. The drift that forms the main factor of the spit geography definition happened due to the waves meeting the landforms of the beach at oblique angles and then moving the sediments down from the beach to the ocean in a zigzag manner. This entire process forming the core of the spit geography definition is also complemented by the longshore currents as well which increase the transport of the sediment by the water alongside the beach. These longshore currents and the longshore drifts are both caused by the same set of waves coming from the water body. 

The Spit Geography is Depicted by the Following Diagram:

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The longshore current generated by the waves spreads out and dissipates at places where the direction of the inland shore re-enters or changes its direction for example at places like headlands. Thus, as the longshore current which is already carrying enough load of sediments dissipates near the coastal features like the headlands, it is unable to carry the same load and so drops much of the sediments. This process is known as a deposition. The submerged bar of the sediment allows the longshore drift to continue to transport the sediment towards the direction of the waves breaking and form an above-water spit. Without any of the complementary processes of the longitudinal drift, the sandbar would not have been formed above the water leading to the formation of a spit geography but instead would have been run off by the water or levelled off by it. 

An Image of the Spit in Contrast With Other Coastal Landforms is Shown in the Following:

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Formation of a Spit Geography

Now, it is very well established that the reason for the formation of spit geography is the longitudinal drifts and longshore currents generated by the waves of the water bodies. These coastal features arise when the longitudinal drifts reach the section of a headland where the turn is greater than the angle of 30 degrees. The longitudinal drifts or the longshore waves continue the process of deposition above the water until water pressure from the sea or the ocean becomes more than the required amount for the formation of a spit geography. The spit and the geographic events influenced by the water become less pronounced as the spit stabilizes by the growth of vegetation as it grows more and more fertile. As the spits grow further the water behind them or rather trapped by them gets sheltered by the dynamic activities of the waves and the wind making it more suitable for a salt marsh to be developed. The growth of this vegetation is because of the sediments making up the spit which come from different sources, such as rivers, oceans, seas, etc. Whenever there is an increase in logging and activities like farming upstream of the water bodies can cause an increase in the sediment deposition as it increases the sediment load of the rivers as well. When the supply of the sediment is usually interrupted at the neck of the spit, the spit starts moving away from the land and it leads to the formation of an island. 

Spits Around the World

The two of the famous spits around the world are shown in the below list of diagrams:

  • Curonian Spit: It is a spit divided between Russia and Lithuania.
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  • Dungeness Spit: This spit is located in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the US pacific coast.
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  • Farewell Spit on the South Island of New Zealand
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Other famous spits around the world include the longest spit in the world which is the Arbat Spit located in the Sea of Azov with a length of 110 kilometers approximately. The longest spit found in a freshwater body is in Long Point, Ontario extending approximately 32 km into Lake Erie.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Are the Main Features of a Spit?

Ans: A spit which is also usually known as sandspit is a deposition bar of a beach formed by the re-entrance of the water from the water bodies. They are usually composed of sand or shingle and are mostly formed because of the longshore movement of the sediments. They have a curved feature that is complex in nature along with a recurved hear or hook which is a characteristic part of the spit. This happens because of the refraction of the waves around the spit from the re-entrance of the water from the water bodies back into the land. 

2. What is a Spit Coastal Landform?

Ans: A spit coastal landform is an extended form of the land occurring due to the deposition of the sediments such as sand or shingle near the coastal regions. Thus, it is a landform of coastal deposition. It is formed of the same or similar sediments that compose the beach and are mostly extensions of the beach in various cases. It is joined at one end to the land and at the other is sticking out to the sea. The longshore drift usually moves along the material along the coastline. 

3. What Are Coastal Features?

Ans: A coast is any strip of land meeting an ocean or a sea. They have many different features such as caves and cliffs, beaches, mudflats, spits, etc. Tides, waves and water currents play a prominent role in the formation of such coastal features around the coastal landforms.