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Coasts are shaped by the sea and the action of waves. The processes that take
place are erosion, transportation and deposition.
The power of waves is one of the most significant forces of coastal change.
Waves are created by wind blowing over the surface of the sea. As the wind blows
over the sea, friction is created - producing a swell in the water. The energy of the
wind causes water particles to rotate inside the swell and this moves the wave
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 travelled (the fetch)
Waves can be destructive or constructive.
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. With a
constructive wave, the swash is stronger than the backwash. With a destructive
wave, the backwash is stronger than the swash.
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
They tend to erode the coast.
They have a stronger backwash than swash.
They have a short wave length and are high and steep.
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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.
The sea shapes the coastal landscape. Coastal erosion is the wearing away and
breaking up of rock along the coast. Destructive waves erode the coastline in a
number of ways:
Hydraulic action.…read more
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Saltation Load is bounced along the sea bed, e.g. small pieces of shingle or large sand grains.
Currents cannot keep the larger and heavier sediment afloat for long periods.
Traction Pebbles and larger sediments 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.…read more