A wave breaking on a shore or over a REEF, etc. Breakers may be classified into four types:

  • COLLAPSING--breaking occurs over lower half of wave, with minimal air pocket and usually no splash-up. Bubbles and foam present.
  • PLUNGING--crest curls over air pocket; breaking is usually with a crash. Smooth splash-up usually follows.
  • SPILLING--bubbles and turbulent water spill down front face of wave. The upper 25 percent of the front face may become vertical before breaking. Breaking generally occurs over quite a distance.
  • SURGING--wave peaks up, but bottom rushes forward from under wave, and wave slides up beach face with little or no bubble production. Water surface remains almost plane except where ripples may be produced on the beach face during runback.