Geography - Coasts

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  • Geography - Coasts
    • Waves
      • The size and energy of a wave is influenced by:
        • How long the wind has been blowing.
        • The strength of the wind.
        • how far the wave has traveled (the fetch)
      • Waves can be constructive or destructive
        • With a constructive wave, the swash is stronger than the backwash. With a destructive wave, the backwash is stronger than the swash.
        • When a wave breaks, water is washed up the beach - this is called the swash. Then the water runs back down the beach - this is called the backwash.
      • Constructive Waves
        • They are created in calm weather and are less powerful than destructive waves.
        • They break on the shore and deposit material, building up beaches.
        • They have a swash that is stronger than the backwash.
        • They have a long wavelength, and are low in height.
      • Destructive Waves
        • Destructive waves are created in storm conditions.
        • They are created from big, strong waves when the wind is powerful and has been blowing for a long time.
        • They occur when wave energy is high and the wave has travelled over a long fetch.
        • They tend to erode the coast.
        • They have a stronger backwash than swash.
        • They have a short wave length and are high and steep.
    • Erosion
      • Destructive waves erode the coastline in a number of ways:
        • Hydraulic action. Air may become trapped in joints and cracks on a cliff face. When a wave breaks, the trapped air is compressed which weakens the cliff and causes erosion.
        • Abrasion. Bits of rock and sand in waves grind down cliff surfaces like sandpaper.
        • Attrition. Waves smash rocks and pebbles on the shore into each other, and they break and become smoother.
        • Solution. Acids contained in sea water will dissolve some types of rock such as chalk or limestone.
    • Transport
      • Solution
        • Minerals are dissolved in sea water and carried in solution. The load is not visible. Load can come from cliffs made from chalk or limestone, and calcium carbonate is carried along in solution.
      • Suspention
        • Small particles are carried in water, eg silts and clays, which can make the water look cloudy. Currents pick up large amounts of sediment in suspension during a storm, when strong winds generate high energy waves.
      • Saltation
        • Load is bounced along the sea bed, eg small pieces of shingle or large sand grains. Currents cannot keep the larger and heavier sediment afloat for long periods.
      • Traction
        • Pebbles and larger sediment are rolled along the sea bed.
    • When the sea loses energy, it drops the sand, rock particles and pebbles it has been carrying. This is called deposition. Deposition happens when the swash is stronger than the backwash and is associated with constructive waves.
      • waves enter an area of shallow water.
      • waves enter a sheltered area, eg a cove or bay.
      • there is little wind.
      • there is a good supply of material.


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