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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Summer 1983

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Schwartz, Maurice L.

Second Advisor

Babcock, R. Scott (Randall Scott)

Third Advisor

Suczek, Christopher A., 1942-2014


Geomorphic and sedimentologic variations in coastal landforms were used to determine the direction of net shore-drift and delineate the boundaries of drift cells along 178 kilometers of the southern Puget Sound coast fronting Thurston County, Washington. The net shore-drift indicators used along the Thurston County coast were, in descending order of observed frequency, gradation in mean sediment size, beach width, foreshore offsets at drift obstructions, spit development, bluff morphology, beach slope, diversion of stream mouth outlets, plan view of deltas or intertidal fans, oblique bars, beach pads, and identifiable sediment.

Wind from the south-southwest prevails over Thurston County. Fetch is the major limiting variable in the development of waves along the Thurston County coast. Because of the abundance of open water channels and fetches oriented sub-parallel to the prevailing wind direction, wind-generated waves that approach from the southwest have the greatest influence on net shore-drift direction. The result is that 76 percent of all net shore-drift along the Thurston County coast has a northward vector component and 24 percent has a southward vector component.

Seventy-five drift cells have been identified and described along 52 percent (92 kilometers) of the Thurston County coast. Areas with no appreciable net shore-drift comprise about 42 percent (74 kilometers) of the coast. The remainder of the coast (approximately 12 kilometers) consists of zones of divergent net shore-drift.

Human modification of the Thurston County coast interrupts the process of shore drift and alters net shore-drift patterns. Modified areas include Olympia Harbor and numerous small-boat marinas and oyster farms developed along the coast. Shore defense structures such as bulkheads and groins are reducing or eliminating wave erosion of bluff material as a source of beach sediment available for shore drift.




Coastal landforms, Net shore-drift, Drift cells, Thurston County coast


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Littoral drift--Washington (State)--Thurston County

Geographic Coverage

Thurston County (Wash.)




masters theses




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