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Physical Shore-Zone Mapping System for British Columbia

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Don Howes
BC Ministry of Environment. Lands and Parks
Victoria, British Columbia

John Harper
Coastal and Ocean Resources Inc.
Sidney, British Columbia

Edward Owens
Owens Coastal Consultants
Bainbridge, Washington






1.1 Purpose

1.2 History Of Development

1.3 Format


2.1 The Mapping Concept

2.2 Definitions

2.3 The Concept Of A Shore Unit

2.4 Mapping Scale Considerations

2.5 Mapper Qualifications


3.1 Resource Materials

3.2 The Physical Shore-zone Database

3.3 Project Information

3.4 Exposure Units

3.5 The Shore Unit

3.6 Components


4.1 Classification Of Shore Units

4.2 Classification Rationale


5.1 Project Data

5.2 Exposure Information

5.4 Across-shore Component Information



A.1 Project Data

A.2 Exposure Data Fields

A.3 Shore Unit Data

A.4 Component Data





TABLE 1 Shore-zone database data entry

TABLE 2 Shore-zone data entry fields - project information

TABLE 3 Shore-zone data entry fields - wave exposure information

TABLE 4 Shore-zone data entry fields - shore unit information

TABLE 5 Shore-zone data entry fields - shore component information

TABLE 6 Rationale for the classification of shoreline types

TABLE 7 Data entry fields - project information

TABLE 8 Shore-zone data entry fields - wave exposure information

TABLE 9 Shore-zone data entry fields - shore unit information

TABLE 10 Shore-zone data entry fields - shore component information

TABLE A.1 Project data fields

TABLE A.2 Exposure data fields

TABLE A.3 Unit data fields from the data entry form

TABLE A.4 Across-shore component data information

TABLE C.1 Wave fetch measurement values and exposure calculations

TABLE C.2 Effective and maximum fetch wave exposure matrix


FIGURE 1 Schematic example of a shore unit showing the subdivision into across- shore components and shore zones (after Howes and Harper 1984)

FIGURE 2 A series of gravel pocket beaches (Units B,D,F,I) and rock ramp shore units (from Werner Bay, Juan Perez Sound, Queen Charlotte Islands).

FIGURE 3 A vertical air photo of Whiffin Spit at the entrance to Sooke Harbour. Some portions of the spit includeboth a gravel beach and a sand & gravel flat (Units B,D) whereas other portions are just gravel beaches (Units C,E).

FIGURE 4 A segment of shoreline from Murchison Island (Queen Charlotte Islands) with similar morphology butwith substantially different wave exposures, hence separate shore units (Units E,F). The east-facing shore unit (Unit F) is exposed to maximum wave fetch distances of 120km. The west-facing shore unit (Unit E) is significantly less exposed with maximum wave fetches less than 15km.

FIGURE 5 A map which illustrates shore units as polygons with the shore type indicated by different patterns. The relationship between the vertical air photo of the site and the map is also indicated. Mapping scale, 1:10,000.

FIGURE 6 A map of Cowichan Bay and the associated estuary illustrating a GIS- produced shore-unit map (from Howes et al 1994). The map includes both linear shore units (1248,1258-1262) and polygonal shore-units (1249-1257). The unit numbers are identifiers that tie the geographic or spatial data to a database. Mapping scale, 1:40,000.

FIGURE 7 Example of an annotated based map showing the method used to delineate wave exposure units (indicated by boxed numbers), shore units (unboxed numbers along the shore) and variants (arrows with numbers) along the southeast coast of Kunghit Island (Queen Charlotte Islands). For example, Exposure Unit "4", contains Shore Units "1", "2" and "3". Shore Unit 4/2 contains variant "v1", a point feature indicating a stream mouth.

FIGURE 8 Oblique aerial photo of Nitnat Narrows.

FIGURE 9 Sketch and across-shore profile

FIGURE 10 Location of the Queen Charlotte Islands (inset)and the Copper Islands

FIGURE 11 Wave Exposure Units of East Copper and Jeffrey Islands.

FIGURE 12 Wave fetch measurements for Exposure Unit 7/7 showing direction of Maximum Wave Fetch (110 degrees at 219km) and the Shore Normal (192 degrees) with associated fetch measurements. Refer to Appendix C for details on measurement procedures.

FIGURE 13 Vertical aerial photo of the Copper Islands and the working copy of associated Shore Units (indicated by circled numbers) on East Copper Island. Note that Shore Units are nested within Exposure Units. Variants, which are point features within the Shore Units, are indicated by "v1" (indicating Variant 1).

FIGURE 14 Sketch of Shore Unit 7/7/01 illustrating across-shore components of the Shore Unit. See Table 10 for detailed coding of across-shore components.

FIGURE A.1 Oblique aerial photo of the eroding cliffs at Cape Lazo near Comox (Denman Island in background).The cliffs are cut into unconsolidated marine sediments and include a discontinuous talus apron. The beach is gravel, primarily pebble/cobble and a wide beach terrace with a boulder/cobble armour lies seaward of the beach.

FIGURE A.2 An oblique aerial photo of the delta complex near the mouth of Oyster River. The large, shore-parallel swash ridge has formed due to wave action at the delta front. Several shore-perpendicular gravel bars are probably relict natural levees from the river. The main channel evident in the photo is dredged to the Oyster River marina.

FIGURE A.3 A vertical aerial photo of the Esquimalt Lagoon area of Victoria. The lagoon is enclosed by a long barrier spit (a) that has prograded from the south. A flood-tidal delta (b), formed due to flood currents in the tidal channel is inside the lagoon, and an ebb-tidal delta flat (c) is present on the seaward side of the tidal channel to the lagoon.

FIGURE A.4 A vertical aerial photo of the Rose Spit area of Graham Island, Queen Charlotte Islands shows two stages of relict, east-west trending dune ridges (a,b) along the north-facing coast, blow-out dunes (c) along the east-facing coast, and an enclosed lagoon (d).

FIGURE B.1 Oblique aerial photo of rock shoreline near Pachena Point, Strait of Juan de Fuca, categorized as a wide rocky ramp (Class 1). This segment includes small platform sections (near waterfall) and a sea cave (right) that could be mapped as variants.

FIGURE B.2 Oblique aerial photo of vertical rock cliffs on Texada Island (Class 3)

FIGURE B.3 Oblique aerial photo of a rock cliff near Pachena Point, Strait of Juan de Fuca. The unvegetated cliff is estimated to be 25m high.

FIGURE B.4 An oblique aerial photo of a narrow (est. 15m wide) rock ramp shoreline in Gwaii Haanas (Queen Charlotte Islands). Wave exposure is relatively low as indicated by the overhand of the tree canopy over the high water line. The narrow black band is lichen growing just above the high water line.

FIGURE B.5 Ground photo of wide rock platform with gravel (boulder beach) along the southern portion of the West Coast Trail, Strait of Juan de Fuca. The rock platform (to the right) is over 100m in width near this location; the boulder beach (left) is located in the upper intertidal zone and is capped by a large log-debris pile.

FIGURE B.6 Ground photo of rock platform with a sand and gravel beach on the West Coast Trail. The beach (to the right) is comprised of a sand and pebble mixture; the platform is cut into the sedimentary Carmanah sandstone.

FIGURE B.7 Oblique aerial photo of the Tsusiat Falls area of the West Coast Trail illustrating a sand beach over a wide rock platform. Sand is contributed from the stream and from weathering of the sandstone bedrock.

FIGURE B.8 Ground photo of a boulder beach located along the northern shore of Esperanza Inlet on Western Vancouver Island. The beach is approximately 40m in width with a well-sorted boulder/cobble surface.

FIGURE B.9 Ground photo of a well-sorted pebble beach(Class 22), southeast of Otter Point, on Sooke Bay. A small swash ridge is evident at the last high-water mark.

FIGURE B.10 Aerial oblique photo of Cape Lazo with Goose Spit in the background illustrating a sand and gravel beach (wide). Much of the beach face and berm are comprised of pebble/cobble sediment but the beach flats have a mixture of sand, cobble and

FIGURE B.11 Ground photo of a sand and gravel beach (Mount Douglas Park, Cordova Bay). The boulder/cobble sediment has been eroded from the till cliff (not visible to the left). The beach face is comprised of sand/pebble and the swash ridge (right-centre) is comprised of sand.

FIGURE B.12 Ground photo of the supra-tidal zone area of the wide sand beach at Long Beach. The storm log debris pile has been buried by wind-blown sand, transported by summer northwesterlies, and has been colonized by some seasonal vegetation.

FIGURE B.13 Oblique aerial photo of a wide sand flat north of Parksville. The sand flat is nearly 1km in width and shows a series multiple ridge and runnel "bars" (Class 28).

FIGURE B.14 Ground photo of the wide, featureless sand flat just east of Tow Hill with Rose Spit in the background (Queen Charlotte Islands). The sand flat is comprised of medium sand and has a high water retention (Class 28).

FIGURE B.15 Oblique aerial photo of the Grice Bay mud flats, located to the southeast of Tofino (Class 29). Water retention within the mud sediments is high. Wave exposure at this location is very low.

FIGURE B.16 Oblique aerial photo of the Ladner Marsh area of the Fraser River estuary (Class 31)

FIGURE B.17 Oblique aerial photo of the a very small estuary near the mouth of Kirby Creek near Jordan River on the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Class 31). The photo shows the marsh/wetland within the estuary, the stream channel, a spit enclosing the estuary and a small delta at the mouth of the stream. There is a very sharp transition from high wave exposure on the seaward side of the spit to low wave exposure inside the estuary.

FIGURE B.18 Oblique aerial photo of a small boat harbour in Ucluelet illustrating several anthropogenic features including: a permeable rubble breakwater (Class 32), floats and a boat ramp.

FIGURE B.19 Oblique aerial photo of Nitinat Narrows at the entrance to Nitinat Lake on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The currents in the channel can exceed 8 knots, creating a unique, current-dominated intertidal habitat (Class 34).

FIGURE B.20 Oblique aerial photo of Dolomite Narrows (also known as Burnaby Narrows) between Moresby and Burnaby Islands, Queen Charlotte Islands. The combination of strong currents and shallow water depths result in a unique intertidal habitat with very high biomass(Class 34).

FIGURE C.1 Examples of "modified effective fetch" measurements. Refer to Table C.1 for actual measurement values.

FIGURE D.1 Regions used to summarize coastal mapping data


Funding of the Resources Inventory Committee work, including the preparation of this document, is provided by the Corporate Resource Inventory Initiative (CRII) and by Forest Renewal BC (FRBC). Preliminary work of the Resources Inventory Committee was funded by the Canada-British Columbia Partnership Agreement of Forest Resource Development FRDA II.

The Resources Inventory Committee consists of representatives from various ministries and agencies of the Canadian and the British Columbia governments as well as from First Nations peoples. RIC objectives are to develop a common set of standards and procedures for the provincial resources inventories, as recommended by the Forest Resources Commission in its report “The Future of our Forests”.

For further information about the Resources Inventory Committee and its various Task Forces, please contact:

The Executive Secretariat
Resources Inventory Committee
840 Cormorant Street
Victoria, BC V8W 1R1
Tel: (250) 920-0661
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