Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

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Second semester
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Course description

Theoretical and practical knowledge for understanding coastal environments and processes that determine their dynamics and time evolution.
The course aims to provide knowledge related to coastal type classification and dynamics, and to identify coastal issues and measures for their protection and conservation.
At the end of the course, the student will be able to proceed with the analysis of coastal systems.
Based on the acquired knowledge, the student will be able to know the coastal issues and to adopt the best methods of intervention.
At the end of the course, the student will acquire autonomy in dealing with the topics and draw up a paper using the specific scientific language.
The course will allow the acquisition of the fundament of coastal knowledge and the methods for managing in autonomy the consultation of texts and publications (also in English) of specific topics




Composition and internal structure of the Earth. Plate tectonics theory. Classification of continental margins. Sea-floor spreading. Orogenesis. Earthquakes and their distribution. Main types of rocks: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. Rocks cycle.
Brittle and ductile deformation. Fractures, faults and folds. Subaerial processes: erosion, particle transport and deposition. Lithification, diagenesis, burial. Stratigraphy: basic concepts and principles. Fundamentals of Geological maps.

Coastal systems and main factors influencing their evolution. Coastal forms. The main types of coastline and their classification criteria.
Sea level oscillations and their morphological and sedimentary effects on the coasts. Coastal depositional sequences. Quaternary climatic oscillations and glacio-eustatic sea level changes. Vertical movements of the coasts and the relative sea level changes. Tectonic, volcano-tectonic and isostatic processes.
Marine terraces. Coral reefs. Submerging coasts: Rias and Fjords.
Waves: wave generation and propagation in shallow waters (shoaling, refraction, breaking, diffraction and reflection phenomena). The longshore currents and sediments transport.
Tides: causes, distribution and main effects on the coasts. Microtidal, mesotidal and macrotidal regimes. Tides measuring. Estuaries and tidal flats.
Beaches: Beach profile and sedimentary structures. The littoral sedimentary balance. Beach morphodynamic classification: reflecting, intermediate and dissipative beaches. Lagoons and ponds. The coastal Dunes formation. Spits and lagoon-barrier systems.
Delta and their classification: wave-, tide- and fluvial-dominated delta systems.
Tropical coasts: coral reefs, their distribution and origin. Barrier reefs and mangroves.
The high coasts and their morphoevolution. Coastal cliffs, wave cut platforms and tidal notches.
Coastal investigation by geophysical prospection methods and borehole analysis.
Present-day climate changes and their impacts on the coasts. Coastal risk: high and low coasts erosion, marine flooding processes. Thematic cartography

The course deals with the following topics: Large-scale endogenous and exogenous earth processes. (8 h)
Introduction to main properties of rocks and their classification. Brittle and ductile deformation. Description and classification of faults and folds. (8 h)
Basic concepts of sedimentology and physical stratigraphy Fundamentals of Geological maps. (8 h)

The coastal forms and processes. The main types of coastline and their classification criteria. (4 h)
Glacio-eustatic sea level changes and their impact on the coast. Coastal vertical movements and the relative sea level changes. Geomorphological indicators of sea level changes. (8 h)
Processes on the coasts: waves, tides, currents and storms. The waves generation and their propagation in shallow waters. The longshore currents and sediments transport. (8 h)
Estuaries and tidal flats. Beaches, coastal dunes and their classification. Lagoon-barrier and delta systems. The coasts from different latitudes: glacial and tropical coasts. (8 h)
High rocky coasts. (8 h)
Hydrogeology and subsidence of coastal systems. (4 h)
Coastal investigation by geophysical prospection methods. (4 h)

Present-day and Quaternary climate changes and their impacts on the coasts. Coastal risk assessment. (4 h)

Teaching Methods



P. CASATI, “Scienze della Terra”, Vol. I “Elementi di Geologia generale”, Città Studi Edizioni, Milano.

B. Simpson . Lettura delle carte geologiche. Dario Flaccovio editore.

L. Scesi, M. Papini e P. Gattinoni. Principi di geologia applicata. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana.

Enzo Pranzini. La forma delle coste. Geomorfologia costiera, impatto antropico e difesa dei litorali. Zanichelli editore.

Coastal Environments and Global Change
Gerd Masselink, Roland Gehrels (Eds)
ISBN: 978-0-470-65660-0
American Geophysical Union (2014)

Introduction to Coastal Processes and Geomorphology
Robin Davidson-Arnott (Editor)
Cambridge University Press (2010)

Learning assessment

Oral exam. The ability to explain the topics of the course clearly will be evaluated. The exam is passed if the score obtained is equal to or higher than 18/30

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