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Coastal Erosion Processes


Waves of Oscillation and Waves of Translation:
Wind-generated waves may originate thousands of kilometers out at sea. Out in the deep open ocean, waves usually start out small and choppy. If the wind is strong and lasts long enough, the wave pattern becomes more organized. Stormdriven waves often travel towards the distant shore as low, rounded swells.

As swells approach the shallow coastline they begin to touch bottom. Water drags against the sea bottom, slowing its forward movement. While the wave slows, water piles up, building higher and higher waves as the bottom shallows. Eventually the wave reaches a critical point when the steep advancing edge collapses. Breaking waves disintegrate into turbulent sheets of water called swash that carry sand and gravel up onto the beach.



The swash (waves moving up the beach) carries material up and along the beach. This process slowly moves material along the beach. This is the result of gravity. Longshore drift happens when waves moves towards the coast at an angle. The backwash carries material back down the beach at right angles.Longshore Drift: Longshore drift is the movement of material along the shore by wave action. .

Longshore drift provides a link between erosion and deposition. transported then deposited elsewhere . Material in one place is eroded.

Longshore Drift: .

uk/schools/gcsebitesize/geography/coasts/coastaldepositionrev2.shtml drift animation: http://www.

Piers can block longhore drift: .

Groynes: .

Use of Groynes: .

Wave Refraction: .

stacks and stumps. arches. As the headland becomes more exposed to the wind and waves the rate of its erosion increases. When headlands erode they create distinct features such as caves.Erosion of a headland A headland is an area of hard rock which sticks out into the sea. Headlands form in areas of alternating hard and soft rock. Where the soft rock erodes bays are formed either side of the headland. .

Often this causes cliff matrial to break away.Types of Erosion: Corrasion/abrasion is when waves pick up beach material (e. This process is known as hydraulic action. . pebbles) and hurl them at the base of a cliff.g. when the wave retreats the air rushes out of the gap. When waves hit the base of a cliff air is compressed into cracks.

. Corrosion/solution is when certain types of cliff erode as a result of weak acids in the sea.Types of Erosion: Attrition is when waves cause rocks and pebbles to bump into each other and break up.

This material will provide temporary protection for the cliff behind. Where cliffs are made of more resistant material. . As the notch increases in size the weight of the cliffs above become too much and the cliff collapses. wave cut platforms will be created. This causes erosion at the base of the cliff. However.Cliff Recession Erosion is greatest when waves break at the foot of a cliff. This creates a wave-cut notch in the base of the cliff. once it has been removed by the sea this process will occur again.

Wave cut terrace: .

Stack: Stage 1: Waves attack a weakness in the headland.Cave. . Tunnel. Arch.

Stage 2: a cave is formed .

.Stage 3: Eventually the cave erodes through the headland to form an arch.

.Stage 4: The roof of the arch collapses leaving a column of rock called a stack.

Animated Progression: .

Diagram progression .

Arch: .

Stack: .

Twelve Apostles: Australia .

Basaltic Stacks: .

Needles: .

Erosion of “Jump-off Joe” Stack 1890 .

1910 .

1920 .

1970 .

1990 .


Tombolo: a sand bar joining a headland and a stack .


Where there is an obstruction or the power of the waves is reduced the material is deposited. Such a ridge is called a spit. The sediment which is deposited usually builds up over the years to form a long ridge of material (usually sand or shingle). Where rivers or estuaries meet the sea deposition often occurs. .Spit: Longshore drift moves material along a coastline.

Spit formation: .

Spurn Head Spit: .

Spit: .

. Waves rushing into the cave may then splash up the blow-hole inland. If part of the roof of the cave falls in this can form a blow-hole.Blowholes: A weakness or crack in the cliff can be enlarged by wave erosion. forming a cave.

Blowhole: .

Coastal Submergence: .


Coastal Emergence: .