High Relief Shorelines

Sea Arch at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. NPSphoto/DalePate
Sea Arch at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

NPSphoto/Dale Pate

High relief erosional shorelines are often characterized by hard bedrock in the coastal zone and are located in areas of active uplift or volcanic activity. Sea cliffs form when wave action erodes the base of exposed rocks. As the base is removed, the overlying rock eventually collapses into the water and is removed by the wave action. In this way, active sea cliffs are constantly advancing landward. Within sea cliffs, sea caves form if less resistant material is scoured from the rock face. If a sea cave penetrates all the way through to create a tunnel, a sea arch is formed.

Last updated: April 22, 2020