Coastal Change & Conflict Edexcel Geography B


A Hard Rock Coast

Hard Rock Coast- Land's End Cornwall

  • hard rock more resistant than soft rock to erosion 
  • usually bare with little vegetation 
  • as the softer rock is worn away it leaves headlands 
  • loose rock, a few rocks which have fallen from the cliff
  • high steep and rugged cliffs
  • sea is clear
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A Soft Rock Coast

A soft rock coast- Holderness Yorkshire

  • cliffs are high, but less rugged and not so steep
  • there may be piles of mud and clay which has slipped down the cliff face
  • very few rocks, some sand and mud
  • sea is often brown, the colour of material from the cliff
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Concordant and Discordant Coastlines

concordant coastline: layers of different rock run parallel to the coast

discordant coastline: where bands of different rock types run perpendicular to the coast

Discordant Coastline

  • often produce headlands and bay, weaker rocks such as clay are easily eroded and form bays, bands of more resistant rock protudes as headlands e.g. chalk and limestone
  • caves, arches, stacks and stumps form along the headlands due to the constant attack by the ocean

Concordant Coastline

  • often produce straighter coastlines
  • the rate of erosion may change dramatically due to the layers of rock, if a softer layer is exposed one year
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Features Along a Coastline

Erosional Landforms

1. Head lands and bays

  • type of rock plays apart
  • often form along discordant coastline due to the direction the rock forms to the beach
  • weak rocks are easily eroded by destructive waves and so give rise to bays
  • more resistant rock form headlands

2. Wave-cut platform

  • waves erode the bottom of the cliff, this forms a notch that gradually gets bigger
  • the rock above gradually loses its support and then collapses
  • the debris is washed away by the waves
  • the process repeats and gradually the cliff becomes steeper
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Features Along a Coastline

Erosional Landforms

1. Caves, arches, stacks and stumps

  • points of weakness such as a faults and joints are attacked particularly by abrasion and hydrochloric action
  • leads to an opening which over time will form a cave
  • if the cave opens up on the other side it forms an arch
  • as erosion of the arch is continued the roof and pillars of the arch weakens and it collapses
  • this leaves a stack seperated from the headland
  • further erosion of the stack may lead to a small stump, may only be visible at low tide
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Features Along a Coastline

Despositional Landforms

1. Beach

  • constructive waves add sediment to the coastline which can form a beach
  • common on low energy coastline i.e. Swanage Bay Dorset

2. Spit

  • formed by longshore drift in one dominant direction 
  • at the end of the beach the material being carried by longshore drift is deposited at the end of the beach 
  • often curved as it is exposed to strong winds

3. Bar

  • when a spit continues to grow and joins the opposite side of the coast i.e. Slapton Bay
  • a 'lagoon' forms behind it
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Climate Change and Water Supply (case study)

Affects on marine erosion and desposition

Affects on marine erosion

  • wave erosion depends on the strength of the wave and climate change cause greater and more frequent storms which increase the rate of erosion
  • coastal areas made of softer rock clay will be particularly affected by the changes and here the retreat of the coastline will be much faster

Affects on desposition features

  • despositional features such as spits and bars will be under a greater risk of submergence or erosion 
  • become worse as sea levels rise and erosion of beaches is affected
  • heat may add more power to storms, which means the despositional features are under greater risk of being eroded away
  • spits may also be breached which can cause a large gap 
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Holderness Coastline

  • 60km of low cliffs
  • made of soft easily eroded boulder clay
  • fastest retreating coastline in Europe 
  • coast is very exposed
  • the waves are mainly destrucitve

Conflicting Views on Erosion

  • erosion is a natural process and cannot be stopped
  • businnesses threatened by erosion
  • people don't want to move just because of erosion
  • not many people live along the coast
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Holderness Coastline


  • loss of farmland if nothing is done
  • loss of bussinesses
  • cost of building sea defences
  • the loss of houses
  • loss of roads


  • people do not lose homes or bussinesses
  • erosion of cliffs stops
  • people do not lose farms or lands
  • coastline is stabalised
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Integrated Coastal Zone Management

Plans for what areas will be protected by defences and what areas will be left alone such as the East Riding ICZM on the Holderness coastline. 

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Soft Engineering Methods

More long term and sustainable, with less imapct on the environment.

Beach Replenishement- adding sand taken from elsewhere

Costs: the sea keeps eroding it away so it has to be replaced every five years.

Benefits: looks natural, and provides a beach for tourists. 

Managed Retreat- people and activities are gradually moved back from vulnerable areas of the coast

Costs: compensation has to be paid and there is wuite a lot of disruption to people's lives and businesses.

Benefits: natural processes are allowed to happen.

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Soft Engineering Methods

Cliff Regrading- making the cliff face longer so the cliff is less steep

Costs: other methods need to be used at the base of the cliff to stop it being steepened by erosion

Benefits: method is relatively cheap, mass movement is less likely. 

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Longshore Drift

  • waves approach coastline at an angle
  • swash pushes beach material along the beach at the same angle
  • backwash drags the material down the beach at a 90 degree angle due to the force of gravity
  • produces a zig zag movement, which is called longshore drift
  • the finest material such as sand is easily moved along the beach
  • larger material such as pebbles are heavy and not moved as far
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