Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Shoreline evolution is the change in the shore zone through time. Along Chesapeake Bay’s estuarine shores, it is a process and response system. The processes at work include winds, waves, tides and currents which shape and modify coastlines by eroding, transporting and depositing sediments. The shore line is commonly plotted and measured to provide a rate of change, but it is as important to understand the geomorphic patterns of change. Shore analysis provides the basis to know how a particular coast has changed through time and how it might proceed in the future. The purpose of this data report is to document how the shore zone of Suffolk (Figure 1) has evolved since 1937. Aerial imagery was taken for most of the Bay region beginning that year and can be used to assess the geomorphic nature of shore change. Aerial photos show how the coast has changed, how beaches, dunes, bars, and spits have grown or decayed, how barriers have breached, how inlets have changed course, and how one shore type has displaced another or has not changed at all. Shore change is a natural process but, quite often, the impacts of man, through shore hardening or inlet stabilization, come to dominate a given shore reach. In addition to documenting historical shorelines, the change in shore positions along the rivers and larger creeks in the City of Suffolk will be quantified in this report. The shorelines of very irregular coasts, small creeks around inlets, and other complicated areas, will be shown but not quantified.



Shoreline Evolution, Sufflok, VA, Chesapeake Bay, Aerial Photography, Human impact, GIS


This project was funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Department of Environmental Quality through Grant #NA09NOS4190163 of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended.