Beach Cusps

Beach cusps are arc-like patterns of sediment that appear on shorelines around the world. Cusps consist of horns, made up of coarse materials, connected by a curved embayment that contains finer particles. They are regular and periodic in their spacing and usually only a few meters across. A couple of theories exist as to how cusps form, but once they do, they are self-sustaining. When an incoming wave hits a horn, the water splits and diverts. The impact of the wave on the horn slows the water, causing it to deposit heavy, coarse particles on the horns while finer sediment gets carried up to the embayment before the wave flows back outward. (Photo credit: L. Tella; inspired by E. Wiebe)

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