Cuspate Foreland Landform

Cuspate Foreland

Cuspate Foreland Landforms Have 2 Main Characteristics:

  1. A triangular extension of the coastline
  2. Created by wave action

Example of a Cuspate Foreland Landform:
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
The cuspateforeland picture is of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

What is a Cuspate Foreland Landform?

A cuspate foreland is a triangular extension of the shoreline. The sides that face the water are sometimes curved inward.

How are Cuspate Forelands Formed?

The most accepted theory of formation for a cuspate foreland is something called longshore drift. When waves approach the coastline at an angle, this causes the movement of sand or sediment in the same direction toward the shore and to the right or left.

When a wave washed back out to sea, the sediment is carried directly seaward. This causes a drift of material in one direction along the coast. In a certain area of the coastline, waves may meet coming from 2 different directions.

Longshore drift can move sand or sediment from both directions of the coastline, meeting at one point. This can cause a buildup of material that may rise above the water’s surface and grow to become triangular in shape. Vegetation may begin to grow, which can protect the formation from storm activity that might wash it away.

A cuspate foreland can be a moving formation, migrating slowly depending on wave strength and direction. As material is added to one side, the other side may lose material from wave action. In this case the landform may be a temporary one.

How Large is a Cuspate Foreland?

A cuspate foreland can push outward for 20 or 30 feet, or extend up to 3 miles or more from the main coastline.

Where can a Cuspate Foreland be found?

Cuspate forelands can be found on ocean coastlines and other large bodies of water. Some lakes can also create a cuspate foreland, depending on wind and land conditions.

Famous Cuspate Forelands

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Point Pelee, Ontario, Canada
Dungeness, Kent, UK

Cape Hatteras is a triangular point of Hatteras Island that is also a cuspate foreland. Point Pelee National Park sits on a cuspate foreland called Point Pelee that extends south from the Canadian shoreline of Lake Erie, east of Windsor. It has wooded and marshland areas with over 360 bird species identified and is part of a migration route birds and butterflies.

Point Pelee is the southernmost point of the Canadian mainland and reaches further south than the Oregon-California border. Dungeness is a point of land and a cuspate foreland on the coast of Kent in the UK. It has a pebble beach and an area of marshland.

Dungeness has grown slowly, extending further during its history since the first lighthouse was built in the 17th century. Several times, a new lighthouse needed to be constructed as the point of land moved further out to sea.

Cuspate Foreland definition:

A triangular headland that extends from the main coastline

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