What is Bar in Geography?

Geography, Nature

Our world is filled with beautiful landscapes like mountains, plateaus, and different forms of waterbodies like seas, oceans, and lagoons which makes the study of such features a very interesting activity. The term bar can refer to landform features ranging in size from a few meters in a tiny stream to hundreds of kilometers of marine depositions along a coastline. Let us dive in deeper and answer some interesting questions like what is bar in geography and how it is formed while learning about other terms such as lagoon, tombolo, spit, and bar.

1. What is Spit and Bar?

In geological terms spit refers to a landform that is connected to the coast at one end while the other end is loose in the water. It is a narrow piece of land, which is formed as a result of an abrupt change of direction of the coast.

While a bar is a point formed as a reason for sedimentation due to the reduction in speed of the water. It is a curved ridge of sand formed along the inner bank of the river. (See What are Physical Characteristics of Land?)

2. What is Bar in Geography?

Are you curious to know what is bar in geography? A bar in geography refers to a gap between the coastland and water. It is formed due to a reduction in the speed of water causing sediments like gravel to deposit resulting in a low curved ridge of sediments. These settled sediments form a layer which is known as a bar and the water which is behind this newly formed layer is known as a lagoon.

3. What is an Example of a Bar Geography?

Since you know what is bar in geography, take a look at an example of bar geography: 

  • Barnegat Bay, New Jersey
  • Cape Canaveral, Florida
  • Cape St. Paul, Ghana
  • Great Yarmouth, England
  • Looe Pool, Cornwall, England
  • Long Island, New York
  • Ninety Mile Beach, Victoria
  • Pamlico Sound, North Carolina
  • Texas Coast
  • The Coorong, South Australia
  • Twin Lakes, California

4. How is a Bar Formed by Deposition?

When a gap is formed between the coastland and the water through the deposition of sediments in an area of slow water current it is known as a bar, this is how the bar formed by deposition in geography. This is how we can define what is bar in geography. When the velocity of water gets reduced suddenly, its capacity to carry sediments falls drastically leading to the deposition of sediments like gravel and sand which get deposited around the coastline creating a gap known as a bar, and the water trapped behind the bar is known as a lagoon. Since there is very less energy in the water of a lagoon it promotes further sedimentation.

5. What is the Bar of a River?

A bar in a river is an elevated section of sediment such as sand or gravel deposited by the flow. Mid-channel bars also known as braid bars and found in braided rivers, point bars found in meandering rivers, and mouth bars are examples of bar types common in river deltas. The geometry of the river and the flow across it, influence the location of the bars. The bars represent sediment supply circumstances and can indicate where the sediment supply rate exceeds the transport capacity.

6. How are River Bars Formed?

JAN23 What is Bar in Geography
By Kristaps Ungurs from Unsplash+

What is bar in geography? The gap formed between the coastland and water due to sedimentation is known as a bar. The major reason for the formation of a bar is the change in the velocity of water causing suspended particles like sand and gravel to settle down and deposit as sediments. These deposits create a gap between the coastland and the water. This signifies that bars are formed in areas where the speed of carrying deposits is considerably lower than the number of sediments resulting in the deposition of sediments in specific areas. (Also read Why are Rivers Important for the Country’s Economy?)

7. What is a Bar Sea?

A bar sea in geography refers to an elongated structure formed by sedimentation that separates the mainland from the water. It is formed due to a reduction in the speed of water leading to particles of sand and gravel getting deposited near the coastal areas creating a shallow submerged area known as a bar while the water trapped behind the bar is known as the lagoon. They are generally found at the seaward entrance of a water body.

8. What is a Bar and a Tombolo?

As you have already learned about spit and bar do you know what the term bar and a tombolo refer to: 

A bar is a long, elongated structure generated by sedimentation that divides the continent from the sea. When the velocity of water abruptly decreases, its capacity to carry sediments decreases dramatically, resulting in the deposition of sediments such as gravel and sand around the coastline, producing a gap known as a bar.

A tombolo is a sandbar or spit that connects an island to the mainland. As in Marblehead, Massachusetts, a single tombolo can connect a tethered island to the mainland. A twin tombolo surrounds a lagoon that eventually fills with silt; excellent specimens can be seen off the coast of Italy. Sandbars form in the shallower waters between an island and the mainland; hence these features are found there.

9. How is a Bar and a Tombolo formed?


  • A tombolo is formed when a spit joins the mainland coast to an island whereas a spit is a structure formed by material deposition on beaches. Longshore drift occurs, which transports debris along the coastline.
  • When the sea brings material onto the coastline at a 45-degree angle, it is pushed up onto the beaches at an angle. The backwash pushes it back out to sea at a correct angle to the coast.
  • As a result of this process, the material is constantly pushed down the shoreline while the longshore drift continues when the shoreline changes to course or there is a river estuary. This results in material being deposited in a long, thin strip of land that is not connected to the coast and therefore is known as a spit. When this feature advances in the direction of the island and connects it to the mainland, it is referred to as a tombolo.


  • When there is a water-filled space in the coastland, a bar is formed. This might be a bay or a natural hole in the coastland. Longshore drift occurs, which transports material across the bay’s front. This is what is bar in geography.
  • When a swash brings material onto the coastline, it is pushed up at a 45-degree angle. The backwash propels it back out to sea at a right angle towards the coast. Material is regularly transferred along the shoreline as a result of this process.
  • Eventually, the deposited material connects with the other side of the bay, and a strip of accumulated debris closes off the water in the bay. The region behind the freshly constructed bar is called a lagoon.

10. Why is it Called a Bar of Pressure?

The bar refers to a metric unit of pressure. Though the International System of Units of pressure is Pascal, the bar is a very commonly used measure of pressure. It is widely used in industries and the field of meteorology. The device which is used to measure pressure is known as a Barometer. One bar translates to 100,000 Pa, which is higher than the atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level as one bar is equal to 0.9869 atm. To study the atmospheric pressure the unit millibars is used.

As we go deeper down the water the pressure increases and even reaches an astounding 1086 bars at the bottom of the marine trench. (Also read What is the Relation between Pressure Force and Area?)

11. Is Bar an SI Unit?

The bar is a frequently used metric unit of pressure measurement, and one bar equals exactly 100,000 pascals. Although the bar is not a SI unit, it has become one of the most popular pressure units, especially in European countries where most pressure measuring instruments are provided with pressure ranges in the bar. The value of 1 bar is a near approximation to atmospheric pressure and is frequently used to represent atmospheric pressure rather than the actual value used by the scientific and engineering communities, which is the standard atmosphere (101325 pascals).

So, what is bar in geography? A bar is a linear shoaling landform feature found inside a body of water in physical geography. Bars are long and narrow and form where a current or waves promotes particle deposition, resulting in regional shallowing of the water body these bars can form in the sea, a lake, or a river.

They are often made of sand but could be made of any particle substance that running water can access and move around like soil, silt, gravel, etc. The size of the particles that make up a bar is related to the size of the waves or the strength of the currents that move the material, but so is the availability of material to be worked by waves and currents. 

About the author
Alex Williams is a PhD student in urban studies and planning. He is broadly interested in the historical geographies of capital, the geopolitical economy of urbanization, environmental and imperial history, critical urban theory, and spatial dialectics.

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