Thursday, March 15, 2012

“Coastlines constantly change due to the processes of erosion and deposition”

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“Coastlines constantly change due to the processes of erosion and deposition”


Australia’s coastline measures over 6000 kilometres. About 85 per cent of the population live in coastal towns or cities. More than 5 per cent live within kilometres of the coast. The coast is important as a natural and human resource. Many people use coasts for recreation as well as industries, fishing locations and ports, but not many people realise that coasts are constantly changing. These changes are due to the processes of erosion and depositon.


Erosion is the wearing away of the earths surface by agents such as wind and water. Waves are constantly striking against a coastline and when the weather is windy, the waves are larger and more powerful. As the wave hits the coastline, the energy in them is used to erode rocks and move sand, pebbles and other material. Bays and headlands are formed by erosion; they result from rocks eroding in different ways. Soft rocks are worn away more readily and form bays. The harder rocks take longer to erode and form headlands. An example of a coastal feature caused by erosion is a cave. A cave will be formed where weak rocks are eroded on each side of a headland. Over time the caves will erode enough to join, forming an arch. Further erosion of the rock supporting the arch will cause it to collapse, leaving a stack. Sometimes where we have only one cave, forming in the face of a cliff. The water can sometimes find a weakness in the cliff face and find a way to the surface, forming a blowhole.


Deposition also plays a major part in the constant change of our coastlines. Waves carry sand and other material on and off the shore. When a wave breaks, the water from it runs up the beach. This is called swash. The movement of water back down the beach to the sea is called the backwash. When storms occur and waves are large, more material is carried in the backwash to deep water. These are called destructive waves. When the waves are small and contain less energy, sand and other materials are more likely to be carried in the swash and deposited on the beach. These are called constructive waves. Deposition can also be caused by other elements other then water, such as wind. Sand dunes are one coastal feature formed by deposition. They are formed by the wind when dry sand is blown to the back of the beach. The sand is trapped and forms a dune.


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Sand and other material can be carried along a shore as well as backwards and forwards. Waves usually move towards the shore at an angle. The material is washed up at the same angle as the wave swash, whereas the backwash moves straight down the beach. The material is therefore moved along the beach. This movement along the beach is called longshore drift. If this drift occurs predominantly in one direction, sand may build up and form an extension of the coastline. This extension is called a spit. A spit can sometimes join two land areas. This type of spit is called a tombolo. An example of where a tombolo has occurred is at Barrenjoey Head, north of Sydney, which was once an island. Is now joined to the mainland.


Sometimes coastlines are naturally vulnerable to erosion, and sometimes this is due to human interference. Whatever the cause the constant changing of our coastline can have huge affects on many people. An example of his occurred at Wamberal and Terrigal beaches located near Gosford, 80 kilometres north of Sydney. Development of this coastal area began in the early 100’s with the construction of holiday houses. These houses were built on dunes along the beach. After a series of severe storms between 166 and 178, the area began to erode significantly. Structures where then put in place to slow the erosion, but after more storms houses where left perched on the edge of eroded sand dunes. Storms in late 178 resulted in more erosion and the loss of two houses. This is an example of where erosion can become a danger to coastal towns or inhabitants.


For years coastlines all around the world have been gradually changing and evolving as a result to their surrounding environmental elements. Coastlines are both a natural and a human resource; they support many different types of vegetation, animal life and coastal civilisations. The constant and gradual change of coastlines throughout the world supply us with many natural wonders, from blowholes to arches and stacks. These natural features will keep the inhabitants of the earth in awe.





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