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Physical Geography Notes: Coasts

Factors affecting the rate of erosion
Breaking point of the wave: a wave which breaks as it hits foot of the cliff releases more energy
Wave Steepness: steep destructive waves have more erosive power
Amount of beach material: protects the coast by absorbing wave energy

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Destructive Waves
Destructive waves are:
High waves with a steep form
High frequency
Have a powerful backwash as they rapidly steepen then plunge down
Erodes a beach as it pulls material away
The force of the wave may create a storm beach

Sediment Cells
Sediment movements occur in distinct areas…

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Beaches are formed from sand and shingle and represent the accumulation of material deposited
between low spring tides and the highest point reached by storm waves. They are divided into three
sections: backshore (upper), foreshore (lower) and nearshore (based upon the influence of waves).

Sand produces beaches with a…

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Berms are a series of ridges marking the high tide mark as the cycle goes from spring to neap tides.

Cusps are semi-circular shaped depressions which form when waves break directly on to the beach
and the swash and backwash are strong. Below this, ripples are developed on…

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Wave Terminology

Wave Refraction
When waves approach a coastline that is not as regular shape, they are refracted. As each wave
nears the coast, it tends to drag in the shallow water which meets the headland. This causes the
wave to become higher and steeper with a shorter wavelength. That…

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A bar is formed as a spit grows across a bay, joining two headlands

A tombolo is where a spit grows out from the mainland and joins onto an island.

Landforms from Erosion
Headland and Bays
Headlands and bays occur when the sea erodes the soft, less resistant…

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Wave Cut Notch
A wave cut notch is created when the power of the sea erodes the bottom of the cliff, leaving part
of the cliff `top heavy' and liable to fall into the sea as it's unstable due to insufficient support. A
wave cut platform is when the cliff…

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Defence Cost Disadvantages
Sea wall Expensive to build and maintain Strong backwash erodes under
the wall
Wave ramps/revetments Expensive to build but cheap to Strong backwash
Rip Rap Fairly cheap Can shift in storms
Embankments Quite expensive Can be eroded
Groynes Quite cheap Starve beaches further down
the coastline…

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Relict Cliff: a sea cliff which is further inland

Submergent Coastline Features
They can form when sea level rises or the land sinks,
usually coastlines are irregular.

Rias: a deep sunken river valley (flooded v-shaped valley)

Fjords: invasion by sea of a u-shaped valley (flooded glacial u-shaped valley)

Fjards: drowned…

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Barrier Beaches as sea level rises, the beach is left out at sea as the land behind it gets flooded

Dalmatian Coasts: where the sea level has risen and what was higher land before are now left as
islands which are just off the mainland


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