The Chilean coast is controlled by the tectonics and structure, generating an irregular coastal landscape, with bays, marine terraces, sandy and gravel beaches, sand dune fields and Andean slopes, forming some mega cliffs that are attacked by waves. The Chilean coastline is shaped by headland bay beaches, with a dynamic coast modeled by south-western winds and south–north longshore current. We analyzed the case of the Coquimbo mega headland bay beach, which consists of four headland bay beaches. A methodological study was carried out on the morphometric parameters of the shoreline and the types of beaches dominated by waves along with geomorphological analysis of the coastal zone. We observed a mass transfer process from south to north. The northern sections of the bays are the places with the densest sand dune fields. This concentration of dunes occurs in each bay individually and in the mega bay as well. The sedimentary supply comes from Andean catchments to the shoreline and is transported and reworked by the longshore current to the northern area, where a huge sand field dune has developed, 120 km away from the mouth of Limarí River, the most southern catchment in the study area. In the mega bay, the current trend is a continuous sedimentary supply, despite the semi-arid conditions and the extreme drought that has affected the area since 2011. The study area is also a popular destination in Chile for beach tourism and is a place of interest for the mining industry.
Part of the book: Coastal Environments