Erosion constantly has been, and also still is, a natural component of the rock cycle. The landforms that you have the right to see along any coastline have developed naturally over countless years.

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How beaches form

The build-up of sediment follow me a shore produces depositional landforms. A beach is composed of sand, gravel, or crushed clam that have actually been lugged to the human body of water by rivers and streams, lugged by waves, and deposited ~ above the coast.


Beach formation begins as eroded continental material--sand, gravel, and also cobble fragments--is washed come sea through streams and rivers. Two processes result in the deposition of this sediment ~ above the shore. Most sediment is rely in sea water and transported along the coastline by the longshore current, a present of water flowing parallel to the beach the is produced by the activity of waves breaking in ~ an angle to shore. In the second process, sand deposited onshore by the longshore current is then oscillated by waves breaking onto and receding indigenous the beach. This continual onshore-offshore movement progressively pushes the sand along the coast edge. If wave movements were identical in speed and duration, the sediments would not it is in left behind ~ above shore and also beaches can not form.


Beaches as landforms

Beaches space dynamic landforms. Castle are altered by wind and waves in a continual process of creation and erosion. Seasonal cycles the sand deposition and loss dramatically influence the appearance of beaches from summer to winter. Wide and tenderness sloping in summer, they come to be steep-fronted and narrow in winter, and can vanish overnight, stripped of sand through violent storm waves. Many of the sand eliminated from winter beaches is deposit in offshore sandbars and also is went back to the beach during the soft summer months by gentle swells that press the sand come the exposed shore. River sediments room the source of 80 to 90 every cent of beach sand; part beaches are developed to great widths through sediments washed come the sea through episodic floods, slowly eroding until the next significant flood replenishes the sand.

Coastline changes

Coastlines space constantly an altering due come the activity of waves, currents, and tides. Landslides and also cliff retreat are component of the natural process of seaside erosion follow me the shore. Waves that undercut bluffs frequently initiate landslides. Lake Erie, Ohio is wonderful example. The eastern side that the Lake Erie coastline in Ohio is make of unconsolidated glacial sediments. These deposits (glacial till and also lake clays and silts) are prone to tide erosion in ~ the base of the bluff. This erosion is higher when the lake level is high during huge storms. The consistent removal that sediment at the basic of the bluff through waves prevents the steep from stabilizing. Numerous lakeshore homes, roads, and other structures have actually been ruined in these areas, where the rate of bluff retreat philosophies 7 feet every year.

Material types and shorelines


A great variety of depositional and erosional terrain can construct along shorelines. A major control top top the figure of the coast is sort of rock acted top top by water and wind. Volcanic absent cliffs room usually steep. Granite generally erodes right into rounded domes, while limestone may type nearly vertical cliffs. The kind of material at the shoreline has a far-reaching effect on the rate of erosion.

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Techniques that try to protect against beach erosion revolve roughly methods to border the removal of sediment along certain areas the the shore or involve including material to locations undergoing erosion. Examples incorporate jetties, groins, and also breakwaters. Jetties and also groins are fabricated structures constructed perpendicular come the coast to prevent longshore drift. Breakwaters are artificial structures constructed parallel come the shoreline in bespeak to safeguard the shore from tide action. Unfortunately, nearly all this methods have actually shortcomings.