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The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia$
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Avijit Gupta

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248025

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199248025.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 October 2021

The Coastal Environment of Southeast Asia

The Coastal Environment of Southeast Asia

(p.177) 11 The Coastal Environment of Southeast Asia
The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia

P. P. Wong

Oxford University Press

Several physical features combine to make Southeast Asia one of the most distinct and unique coastal regions in the world. The mainland or continental part of Southeast Asia consists of a number of peninsulas extending south and southeast from the Asian continent and separated by gulfs and bays. The world’s two largest archipelagos form the islands of Southeast Asia. During much of the Pleistocene, a large part of the South China Sea was dry land, and the islands of Sumatra, Java, and Borneo were linked to the mainland by the exposed shallow Sunda Shelf. Southeast Asia comes under the influence of the monsoons, or seasonal winds, which have an important impact on its coasts. The region is also a high biodiversity zone, characterized by its rich coral reefs and mangroves. This chapter examines the coastal environments of Southeast Asia in three stages. First, the major elements that make the coastal environments of Southeast Asia distinctive are discussed. The focus is on the coastal processes, as the geological framework and Quaternary have been covered in earlier chapters. Secondly, the various coastal environments in the region (excluding estuaries and deltas discussed in Chapter 13) are described next in terms of their extent, characteristics, and significance, with sufficient examples given to show their variability. Finally, the chapter ends with an assessment of the major environmental problems facing the region’s coastal environments—coastal erosion and rising sea level associated with climate change. Overall, this chapter provides the physical basis for a better appreciation of coastal development in Southeast Asia. The coastal environments of Southeast Asia bear the impact of significant geological and climatic factors. Geologically, the core of the region is an extension of the Eurasian Plate meeting the Indo-Australian and the Pacific Plates and two lesser ones (Philippines and Molucca Sea) with mountain chains trending in a general north–south direction. The island of New Guinea is part of the Indo-Australia Plate. Island arcs have developed along the convergent margins, and many are volcanically active and also associated with shallow to deep earthquakes.

Keywords:   beach, charcoal, delta, fish, glaciation, interglacials, limestone, mangrove, pes-caprae formation, rivers

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