1 GCSE GEOGARPHY OCR B REVISION GUIDE Coasts Definition: The interface between land and sea. Coastal regions cover only 10% of the inhabited land space, yet they are home to more than 60% of the world s population, all concentrated in a narrow ribbon of land around the planet s oceans, seas and lakes. 1. Attrition: Processes of Coastal Erosion - Rock on rock - Particles carried by the waves crash against each other and are broken up into smaller particles. 2. Corrasion (also known as abrasion): - Rock on cliff - Particles carried by the waves crash against the cliffs, eroding the cliffs. 3. Corrosion: - Rusting / dissolving - Salt in the seawater slowly dissolves the cliffs. - The material produced is carried away by the process of solution. 4. Hydraulic Action:
2 - Pressuring - The water traps air in cracks and caves in the rock. - This air is compressed by the incoming waves placing great pressure on the rocks, causing them to crack eventually. Waves Waves are responsible for most of the erosion along coasts. Wind blowing over a smooth sea surface causes small ripples which grow into waves. There are two types of waves: 1. those generated by wind 2. those generated by tectonic activity, i.e. tsunami Wave height and length The amount of energy in waves depends on their height. As a result, when high waves hit a coastline, erosion and transport are greatly increased. But why do waves vary in height? Three factors affect waves height and wave energy. 1. Wind speed. When the weather is very windy, damaging storm waves crash against the coastline. 2. Wind duration - the length time over which a wind blows. 3. Fetch, which refers to the distance of open sea over which a wind has blown.
3 Constructive waves form where fetch is long, small waves, flat and with a long wave length. Low frequency. Wave spills over; resultant swash is stronger than backwash. Sand and shingle moved up the beach. Material moved up the beach creating a berm flat topped ridge. Destructive waves more common where fetch is shorter. Large waves, steep with short wave length. High frequency. Steepen rapidly and plunge over. Powerful backwash moves sediment down the beach. Most material moved down to form a longshore (breakpoint) bar. Coastal Transportation and Deposition Deposition is the geological process by which material is added to a landform or land mass Depositional landforms include spits, tombolos, sand dunes Coastal transportation Long shore Drift
4 - Material is moved along the coastline by the waves. - Waves will often approach the coast at an angle, carrying material with them. This is carried up on to the beach by the swash. - The material is then dragged out to sea by the backwash, but this time it travels at right angles to the beach, as it will roll down the steepest gradient. - This movement will slowly transport material laterally along the coast. Sediment movement: Long shore drift is the overall process of transportation, however the material actually moves through the four transportation processes seen in rivers. These depend on the size of sediment: i) Traction the rolling of large material along the sea floor by the waves. ii) Saltation the bouncing of slightly lighter material along the sea floor. iii) Suspension Small particles of material carried by the water. iv) Solution Material is dissolved and carried by the water. Coastal Deposition: - The process associated with constructive waves.
5 - Material is dropped by waves once they lose energy, either by rolling up a beach or where a river estuary causes a disruption to the normal movement of material along the coast. Spits - Creates features such as beaches, spits, bars and tombolos. Tombolos If a spit joins the mainland to an island it is called a tombolo. This diagram above shows the tombolo Chesil Beach.
6 Coastal Erosion Features Headlands and Bays - Formed on discordant (rocks types perpendicular to coast eg Swanage Bay) coastline due to the softer rock being eroded quicker than the harder rock. - Beaches form in the bays where the soft rock has been eroded away. - Headlands of more resistant, hard rock are left behind. Cliffs & Wave Cut Platforms Cliffs are formed when destructive waves attack the bottom of the rock face between high and low water mark. The area under attack is eroded using the major processes of coastal erosion. Points of weakness, such as faults and joints are attacked most, and eventually a wave-cut notch is gouged out. The rock above overhangs the notch, and as it is cut deeper into the rock, gravity causes the overhanging rock to collapse. The loose rocks are removed by the sea and transported along the coast by long shore drift. The whole process of undercutting the cliff begins again.
7 As the cliff is eroded backwards it leaves behind a wave-cut platform, at the level of the low water mark. This platform is rarely eroded, as the waves energy is concentrated on eroding the area between the high and low water mark, and not the rock that is underneath them. Caves, Arches, Stacks and Stumps Mainly seen on headlands. Waves start by attacking the main points of weakness in the rock: the joints and faults. A point of weakness is increased in size until it becomes a cave. The waves continue to attack the cave, which finally results in an arch being formed through the headland. The arch is attacked both by coastal erosion and sub-aerial erosion and finally the roof of the arch falls into the sea. This leaves behind a stack, which is then slowly eroded down to become a stump.
8 Holderness Coast Case study of erosion The Holderness Coast is one of Europe's fastest eroding coastlines. The average annual rate of erosion is around 2 metres per year. This is around 2 million tonnes of material every year. Under lying the Holderness Coast is bedrock made up of Cretaceous Chalk. However, in most place this is covered by glacial till deposited over 18,000 years ago. It is this soft boulder clay that is being rapidly eroded.
9 The Holderness coast is in the north east of England. This is one of the most vulnerable coastlines in the world and it retreats at a rate of one to two metres every year. The problem is caused by: Strong prevailing winds creating longshore drift that moves material south along the coastline. The cliffs are made of a soft boulder clay. It will therefore erode quickly, especially when saturated. The village of Mappleton, perches on a cliff top on the Holderness coast, has approximately 50 properties. Due to the erosion of the cliffs, the village is under threat. In 1991, the decision was taken to protect Mappleton. A coastal management scheme costing 2 million was introduced involving two types of hard engineering - placing rock armour along the base of the cliff and building two rock groynes. Mappleton and the cliffs are no longer at great risk from erosion. The rock groynes have stopped beach material being moved south from Mappleton along the coast. However, this has increased erosion south of Mappleton. Benefits in one area might have a negative effect on another. The increased threat of sea level rise due to climate change, other places will need to consider the sustainability of coastal defence strategies for the future.
12 Protection and management of coasts
14 Coastal Management As things like coastal tourism have become more frequent, humans have found it increasingly necessary to attempt to control the effects of the sea. The main reasons for coastal management are: - to protect the coast from the erosive effects of the sea. - to increase the amount of sand on the beach. Many strategies have been tried around the world, and these can be divided into two main groups, hard and soft engineering. Hard engineering methods aim to stop the coastal processes from occurring. Soft engineering methods try to work with nature to protect the coast. Examples of these two strategies are: Hard Engineering Sea Walls: Often built in front of seaside resorts. - Very expensive. - They aim to completely block the waves and their effects. - Life span of approximately 75 years. - Can cause the erosion of the beach in front of them. - Socially reassuring for local residents. Wooden Groynes: - Wooden fences built at right angles to the coastline. - They aim to stop the movement of material along the beach due to long shore drift. - Their primary intention is to build up the amount of sand on the beach. - They have a life span of approximately 25 years. Gabion Groynes: - Large steel mesh cages filled with large rocks. - Aligned at right angles to the coastline.
15 - They aim to do a similar job to wooden groynes. - Expected life span of years, as the steel will rust. Rip Rap / Rock Armour: - Large boulders, of 10 tonnes or more, are used as a sea wall. - The gaps between the rocks allow water through, which means that the energy of the waves is dissipated very effectively. - It is important that the boulders are big enough to withstand being eroded themselves and therefore becoming part of the coastal system. Soft Engineering Beach Replenishment - Sand is either brought in from elsewhere, or transported back along a beach, usually once a year. - This is done using trucks, and is therefore very costly and time consuming. - Over the next 12 months the material is washed along the coast by long shore drift, before being replaced again. The final method of coastal management is of course to do nothing and allow the sea attack the coastline naturally.
16 Management strategies Physical management of the coast attempts to control natural processes such as erosion and longshore drift. Hard engineering Hard engineering options tend to be expensive, short-term options. They may also have a high impact on the landscape or environment and be unsustainable. Hard engineering solutions Type of defence Pros and cons Building a sea wall A wall built on the edge of the coastline Advantages Protects the base of cliffs, land and buildings against erosion. Can prevent coastal flooding in some areas. Disadvantages Expensive to build. Curved sea walls reflect the energy of the waves back to the sea. This means that the waves remain powerful. Over time the wall may begin to erode. The cost of maintenance is high. Waves in Porthleven during a storm Building groynes A wooden barrier built at right angles to the beach Advantages Prevents the movement of beach material along the coast by longshore drift. Allows the build up of a beach. Beaches are a natural defence against erosion and an attraction for tourists. Disadvantages Can be seen as unattractive. Hopton Sea Wall, Norfolk Costly to build and maintain.
17 Rock armour or boulder barriers Large boulders are piled up on the beach. Advantages Absorb the energy of waves. Allows the build up of a beach. Disadvantages Can be expensive to obtain and transport the boulders. A boulder barrier in Nice, France Soft engineering options Soft engineering options are often less expensive than hard engineering options. They are usually more long-term and sustainable, with less impact on the environment. There are two main types of soft engineering. 1. Beach management o o o This replaces beach or cliff material that has been removed by erosion or longshore drift. The main advantage is that beaches are a natural defence against erosion and coastal flooding. Beaches also attract tourists. It is a relatively inexpensive option but requires constant maintenance to replace the beach material as it is washed away. 2. Managed retreat o o o Areas of the coast are allowed to erode and flood naturally. Usually this will be areas considered to be of low value - eg places not being used for housing or farmland. The advantages are that it encourages the development of beaches (a natural defence) and salt marshes (important for the environment) and cost is low. Managed retreat is a cheap option, but people will need to be compensated for loss of buildings and farmland. Disadvantages of Coastal Management Cost: - Most of the solutions detailed are very costly, and in many places questions are being asked as to whether they are actually worth the money. Problems of disrupting the natural coastal system:
18 - Whenever you tamper with nature there are going to be knock on effects, which could, in time, become worse than the original problem. - Coastal defence strategies are often very localised, and can cause problems further down the coast. One such example could be seen where groynes are used to trap sediment. Further down the coast there could be a reduction in the amount of material available to protect the coast there. This in turn would mean an increased amount of coastal erosion.
19 GLOSSARY COASTS Arch When caves, which have developed on either side of a headland, join together they form a natural arch. Attrition The process whereby rock particles wear down through collisions with other rock particles. This often occurs when pebbles are thrown against cliffs, boulders or other pebbles, causing them to shatter and break. Backwash Water moves up a beach as a wave breaks. This is called the swash. The return movement of the water, back down the beach, is called the backwash. Bar A bar is very similar to a spit. It is a ridge of sand or shingle which forms across the mouth of a river, the entrance to a bay or harbour. It is usually parallel to the coast. Bay A wide indentation into the land by the sea, protected on each side by a headland. The water in a bay is usually relatively shallow; the wave action less strong than at the headlands. Beach A gently sloping deposit of sand, pebbles or mud, deposited along the coast. Blow hole A blow hole is formed when a joint between a sea cave and the land surface above the cave becomes enlarged and air can pass through it. As water flows into the cave, air is expelled through the pipe like joint, sometimes producing an impressive blast of air or spray which appears to emanate from the ground. Cave A weakness, such as a joint, is enlarged by wave action, finally creating a cylindrical tunnel which follows the line of weakness. Caves developing back to back may give rise to arches and stacks. Cliff A steep, and usually high, rock face found at the edge of the land where it meets the sea. Cliffs can be formed from most rocks, height generally increasing with hardness of rock. Cliff Line The margin of the land. The cliff line is identical to the coastline, but consists of cliffs rather than lower features such as dunes and beaches. Coastline The margin of the land. Where the margin consists of cliffs, it is known as the Cliff line Constructive wave When waves break at a rate of ten or less per minute each wave is able to run up the beach and drain back again before the next wave arrives. The swash is more powerful than the backwash so deposition can occur. Corrasive action This is a form of wave erosion. Pebbles, boulders and rocks are thrown against the cliff face by breaking waves. This causes undercutting of the cliff and leads to the breakup of both the cliff and the objects being thrown against it.
20 Destructive wave When waves break at a rate of more than ten per minute each wave is able to run up the beach but unable to drain back again before the next wave arrives. Thus the backwash of the previous wave interferes with the swash, reducing it's efficiency. Such waves remove material from a beach and are destructive. Estuary The mouth of a river where fresh water and sea water mix, and tides have an effect. Estuaries are often to be found on submerged coastlines, where a river valley has been flooded by the sea. See ria. Fetch This distance of open water over which the wind can blow and form waves. Headland Areas of harder rocks tend to resist the erosive powers of the sea. The resulting area of land, jutting out into the sea, is a headland. Bays are to be found between headlands. Hydraulic action When a wave breaks against a cliff it causes air,trapped within cracks, to suddenly become compressed. As the water retreats the air is allowed to expand, often explosively. Repeated expansion and contraction of the cracks leads to the break up of the surrounding rock. Lagoon When a spit extends across the mouth of a river, to the extent that it causes the river to become diverted along the coast, an area of water is created separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land. This is a lagoon. Load Solid matter carried by water, including material in solution, material suspended in the water, and larger material moved along the water / ground interface. Longshore Drift When waves break on to a beach at an angle, material is pushed up the beach at an angle by the swash, but pulled back down the beach by the backwash at ninety degrees to the coast. In consequence, material is slowly moved along the coast, in the direction of the waves. of the surrounding land may become islands. Plymouth Sound and Southampton Water are examples of rias in the United Kingdom. Spit Longshore Drift transports material along the coast. When the mouth of a river, or an indented area, is encountered material starts to be deposited. The deposition begins where the coast changes direction and extends down coast in the direction of longshore drift. The result is a narrow ridge of material ( sand or pebbles ) attached to the mainland at one end and terminating in the sea. The spit may extend sufficiently to form a lagoon. Stack When a natural arch collapses, the remaining upright sections form stacks, isolated rocks sticking up out of the sea. Swash The movement of water in a breaking wave as it moves up the beach. Tides The daily movements of the sea as it covers and exposes the area between the high tide and low tide marks. Tides are the result of lunar activity, and to a much lesser degree, winds and atmospheric pressure. Tombolo A bar linking an island to the mainland.
21 Wave-cut Platform As cliffs become eroded down to beach level they appear to migrate inland. The remains of the former cliffs form a flat rock platform. This is known as a wave cut platform.
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