Shingle beaches are made up of of pebble-size water-smoothed stones and cobbles (rock particles size between 2 mm and 256 mm) and sand. Often this grade of rock is referred to as gravel.
Shingle beaches form on shorelines where rock fragments have been eroded and transported by wave activity such as eroding coastal cliffs or as a result of rivers delivering shingle to the coast. The shingle is moved by waves along beaches by a process known as longshore drift forming long shingle beaches and headlands.
In New Zealand shingle beaches are common on the east and south coasts from Christchurch to Dunedin but also occur on the Taranaki and Wellington coasts. Onoke Spit photo (above) by Jeremy Rolfe.
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This page last updated on 26 Sep 2012