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Coastal Dynamics

Coastal processes affect the human desire to live, work, and play along the coast. It is estimated that almost half of the U.S. population lives in coastal counties. That means 50% of the nation lives on 11% of the land.

The relatively short 45 mile expanse of Indiana's portion of the Lake Michigan shoreline is part of a complex and dynamic process of the Great Lakes systems. The wind and waves have acted in concert over thousands of years to shape the southern shores of Lake Michigan, and continue to do so today. Lake levels continually fluctuate as the water seeks a balance between water flowing into and out of the lakes. Waves, generated by strong winds, transport sand along the shoreline, maintaining a balance between sand transport and sand deposition. Coastal erosion can be significantly increased when there are barriers to the littoral drift along the shore. Human activities along the shore such as development, construction of shoreline protection, and recreation activities can influence natural coastal processes.

For additional information on coastal dynamics and the Indiana Lake Michigan shoreline contact Steve Davis.

Lake Michigan Specialist
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
100 West Water Street
Michigan City, IN 46360


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