Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology



First Advisor

Monty A. Hampton


The shore and shoreline processes were investigated in the vicinity of Matunuck Point, Rhode Island during 1973-1974. Studies of the beach foreshore and nearshore included topography and topographic changes; wave conditions and wave refraction; surface and bottom nearshore currents; sediment grain size and composition; and nearshore bedforms.

In the swash zone, beach drift resulted from refracted waves breaking on the shore and wind driven currents. Moreover McMaster’s (1960) beach nodal zone originated in response to refraction of dominant in wave climate caused periods of accretion and erosion which did not necessarily follow the summer-winter seasons.

A nearshore nodal zone, characterized by a gravelly sand, was discovered about ¾ miles west of Matunuck Point immediately seaward of the beach nodal zone in water depths down to at least -12 feet. The nodal zone is believed to result from a topographic controlled nearshore circulation pattern. An eastward turning gyre, produced by the direction of wave induced currents during the northwest flooding tide, was observed just west of Matunuck Point. Further west the flow was found to be westward when relatively unrefracted predominant southeast swell was superimposed on the westward flooding tide. Orientation of nearshore bedforms and the hydraulic equivalence trend confirmed the westward movement of bottom sediment beyond the nodal zone.

Based upon mineralogy and beach-nearshore hydraulic equivalence trends, the immediate source of sediment for the beach and nearshore is believed to lie to the east, possibly Matunuck Point and the shoal area seaward of Matunuck Point, and Nebraska Shoals to the west.



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