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Coastal processes

Coasts are shaped by erosion, transportation and deposition. Watch this video to find out more.


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Key points

  • Waves are made by wind blowing over the surface of the sea. The power of waves is one of the most significant forces of coastal change.
  • The size and energy of a wave is influenced by the wind's strength, how long it's been blowing and the fetch, which is how far the wave's travelled.
  • Swash is when a wave breaks and water washes up the beach.
  • Backwash is when the water then runs back down the beach.
  • Abrasion is where waves bring bits of rock and sand with them and grind the cliffs down like sandpaper.
  • Attrition is where waves cause rocks and pebbles onshore to smash together getting smaller and smoother.
  • Solution is acids contained in sea water slowly dissolving rocks such as chalk and limestone.
  • Longshore drift is when waves strike at an angle, moving material along the beach.

All Geography videos

Coasts index

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