Coasts key term dictionary.

Key terms for as level geography coasts section.

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Coasts Key Terms Dictionary
Coast Where the land meets the sea.
Spring tide A tide just after a new or full moon.
High tide The state of the tide when at its
highest level.
Neap tide A less than average tide occurring
at the first and third quarters of
the moon.
Low tide The state of the tide when at its
lowest level.
Tidal range The tidal range is the vertical
difference between the high tide
and the succeeding low tide.
Constructive wave
Destructive wave
Wave length The distance between two crests.
Wave height / amplitude The vertical distance between
trough and crest.
Wave frequency / period The number of waves that passes a
given point per second.
Wave orbit

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Swell A relatively smooth ocean wave that
travels some distance from the area
of its generation.
Crest Highest point of a wave.
trough Lowest point of a wave.
Swash Water movement up a beach.
Backwash Water movement down a beach.
Fetch The distance of uninterrupted
water surface over which the wind
has blown to form waves. Longer
fetch means higher energy waves.…read more

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Biological weathering The breakdown of rock through the
action of plants and animals.
Chemical weathering The decomposition (or rotting) of
rock caused by a chemical change
within that rock; sea water causes
chemical weathering of cliffs.
Oxidation When iron reacts with oxygen in the
air or water causing it to rust, red
Carbonation Rain water and carbon dioxide
create carbonic acid. This mild acid
interacts with minerals in soft
rocks: lime, potash and soda.…read more

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Exfoliation / onion skin A form physical weathering that
occurs in very warm climates when
a rock is repeatedly heated and
Mass movement The downhill movement of
weathered material under the force
of gravity. The speed can vary
considerably, from soil creep, where
the movement is barely noticeable,
to slumps, slides and mudflows,
where the movement becomes
increasingly more rapid.
Rockfall Type of mass movement that
involves the detachment and
movement of a small block of rock
from a cliff face to its base.…read more

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Repeated expansion and contraction
of the cracks leads to the breakup
of the surrounding rock.
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.
Corrasion / abrasion This is a form of wave erosion.
Pebbles, boulders and rocks are
thrown against the cliff face by
breaking waves.…read more

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Arch When caves, which have developed
on either side of a headland, join
together they form a natural arch.
Stack When a natural arch collapses, the
remaining upright sections form
stacks, isolated rocks sticking up
out of the sea.
Stump Stacks are eroded down until there
is only a tiny stump left.
Reef A ridge of jagged rock, coral, or
sand just above or below the
surface of the sea.…read more

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Hard rocks
tend to be more resistant to
weathering, due to being cemented
and well consolidated. They are
usually stable than softer rocks.
Many features such as stacks,
arches and caves are generally
formed in harder rocks.
Soft rock Easily eroded rock such as
limestone and chalk, more
susceptible to weathering than other
types of rock. When banded with
hard rock, they form headlands and
bays creating concordant and
discordant coastlines.…read more

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Runnels are the corresponding
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.
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.…read more


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