The Coastal Zone – What you need to know

The key ideas for the topic are in bold and the main information you need to know is shown in italics.

The coast is shaped by weathering, mass movement, erosion, transportation and deposition.

Weathering processes – mechanical, chemical. Mass movement – sliding and slumping. Constructive and destructive waves. Processes of erosion – hydraulic power, abrasion, attrition and solution. Processes of transportation – longshore drift, traction, saltation, suspension and solution. Deposition and the reasons for it.

Distinctive landforms result from different processes.

Landforms resulting from erosion – characteristics and formation of headlands and bays, cliffs and wave cut platforms, caves, arches and stacks.

Landforms resulting from deposition – characteristics and formation of beaches, spits and bars.

Rising sea level will have important consequences for people living in the coastal zone.

Reasons for rising sea level. A case study to illustrate the economic, social, environmental and political impact of coastal flooding.

Coastal erosion can lead to cliff collapse. This causes problems for people and the environment.

A case study of an area of recent or threatened cliff collapse – rates of coastal erosion; reasons why some areas are susceptible to undercutting by the sea and collapse; how people may worsen the situation; the impact on people’s lives and the environment.

There is discussion about how the coast should be managed. There is debate about the costs and benefits of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ engineering.

Management strategies:

Hard engineering – sea walls, groynes, rock armour.

Soft engineering – beach nourishment, dune regeneration and marsh creation. Managed retreat. A case study of coastal management to assess the costs and benefits of strategies adopted.

Coastal areas provide a unique environment and habitat. There is a need for conservation and this leads to conflict with other land uses.

A case study of a coastal habitat – its environmental characteristics; the resulting habitat and species that inhabit it and reasons why. Strategies to ensure the environment is conserved, but also allow sustainable use of the area.