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With reference to and area you have studied describe (how it is) and explain why coastal erosion
is taking place. (15 marks)
The Holderness Coast, Yorkshire is situated on the West coast of England and stretches over 50km
from Flamborough Head to Spurn Head. The combination of clay and geology and a high energy
environment has meant it has become one of the quickest eroding coastlines in Europe, 1.5m 2m
The weather plays an important role in the rate of erosion. The winter storms produce stronger
waves and higher sea levels. This means the waves are more efficient and are simply much stronger
when it comes to eroding the coast; it has much more erosive power. In addition, the rain the storms
bring intensifies land-based processes. For example, the saturated clay cliffs suffer increased runoff
leading to slumping and other forms of mass movement.
Global warming can be linked to the previous point because it's created a rise in sea level and
increasing storminess. Areas like Spurn Head and the shoreline of the Humber Estuary are at great
risk in such conditions, from both coastal flooding and erosion.
The dominant waves of the coast are from the North East which is also the direction of the largest
fetch. Therefore, even without winter storms the waves are already powerful. The destructive
waves erode the beaches and attack the foot of the cliffs, removing the clay in suspension. It is
estimated that LSD carries half a million tonnes of sediment southwards each year in suspension.
There is therefore little material left to form beaches and protect he cliffs from winter storms and
high tides. At particular places along this coast strong rip currents may excavate "ords" or deep
hollows, which can lead to catastrophic rates of cliff erosion. At places like Great Cowden erosion
rates have been over 10 metres per year.
The Holderness cliffs are made of boulder clay which is a soft rock. The waves and other factors
therefore find it easy to erode away the cliff. Mapleton is a good example of this very quick erosion.
Humans have also interfered with the coastline which has had negative effects. Groynes were
created at Hornsea, Mappleton and Withersea meant that sediment was being prevented from
building beaches elsewhere. Therefore at places like Great Cowden rapid erosion took place to a
starvation of sediment.