Hydraulic action: the sheer force of waves crashing against the shore and cliffs. The power of the waves forces air into cracks, compresses it and blows the rock apart as the pressure is released, but only after continuous wave attack month after month.
Attrition: rocks and pebbles carried by the waves smash into each other, wearing each other away and gradually becoming smaller, rounder and smoother.
Abrasion: also called corrasion - the process of rocks and pebbles carried by the waves wearing away rocks as they are thrown against cliffs.
Solution: also called corrosion - chemicals in the seawater dissolve minerals in the rocks, causing them to break up.
Which one is not strictly an
example of erosion? Why?
The processes involved in erosion are:
Waves are one of the most significant forces in shaping the coastline. There are two main types of wave ... Constructive waves are low energy waves. They are small in height. They have a strong swash and a weak backwash. This means that constructive waves tend to deposit material and build up a beach. Destructive waves have much higher energy. They are much larger in height, often having been caused by strong winds and a large fetch. They have a weak swash but a strong backwash so they erode the beach by pulling sand and shingle down as water returns to the sea. This means that less beach is left to absorb wave energy.
Cave cut by abrasion & hydraulic action where there is a weakness in the rock Caves either side of headland meet to form arch Arch collapses to detach land from mainland Wave cut notch - undercutting Stack Undercutting will reduce the stack to a stump Headland Just below the water line will be a wave cut platform Original position of headland
Erosion necessitates movement – i.e. the waves crashing against the cliff face
Weathering is in-situ and does not involve movement. Weathering can be mechanical (freeze-thaw activity) or chemical (corrosion, sometimes called solution).
If weathering occurs on a slope the loose debris will move with gravity down hill. This is called mass movement .
Erosion by waves tends to occur at the cliff foot but weathering and mass movement affect the cliff face and these two are collectively known as sub-aerial processes
There are three main types of mass movement …
Rockfall: rapid, free-fall of rock from a steep cliff face due to gravity. This is made worse by freeze-thaw action loosening the rock - water enters the joint (vertical crack), freezes and expands, breaking up the rock. A scree slope of fallen rock is formed at the bottom of the cliff. It is also possible for free falls to occur in very dry conditions – for example clay cracks as it dries out and then crumbles easily
Mudflow: occurs on steep slopes over 10°. It's a rapid sudden movement which occurs after periods of heavy rain. When there is not enough vegetation to hold it in place, saturated clay flows out of the cliff face, almost like a river of mud.
Landslips: also known as rotational slumps, are occasional rapid movements of a mass of earth or rock dropping down along a concave plane. Water percolating through sandstone gets into the clay beneath, saturating it. With the weight of the rock above forcing down on it the clay moves seawards as a mud flow. With the clay moving sideways the sandstone above slumps down. Undercutting of a steep slope by the sea weakens the rock above, making a slump more likely.
The speed and nature of mass movements is influenced by …
Angle of slope – the steeper the slope the faster the movement
Rainfall – a lot of water will lubricate the cliff, especially if it is clay – and lead to mud flows
Vegetation cover – with no vegetation there is nothing to impede the movement of debris. But if vegetation is preit will absorb some of the water and the roots will bind the soil making it more stable.
Gabions are wire cages filled with hard rocks like flint. They act like a sea wall but are less expensive. The downside is that they do not last as long as a sea wall because the rocks will get worn down by abrasion and attrition. They are sometimes used to hold back the land on the cliff face helping to reduce the chance of mass movement
This is a revetment. As the waves armed with sand and pebbles hit them the particles are able to move through the slats but as the wave retreats with the backwash there is insufficient energy to move them back out to sea. In this way a beach on the land side is able to accumulate to protect the land.
Rock armour (rip-rap) is sometimes dumped at the foot of the cliff. As waves crash onto them the gaps between the boulders help dissipate the wave energy Rip-rap is made from very hard rock, like granite. In soft rock areas like Walton-on-the-Naze they have to be imported and are therefore not sustainable.
When the beach is depleted sometimes sand is dredged from the sea bed and deposited on the beach to make it more substantial and a better protection. When the beach is wide and deep waves gently wash onto it and do not attack the land behind it.