Geography - The Coastal Environment

Multi-Use Area

Coastal areas providing economic, environmental and recreational opportunities.

Oil Refinery

A factory where crude oil is cleaned and turned into useful oil products

Nature Reserve

an area set aside for conservation of nature; examples: national parks, wilderness areas, game reserves, national forests, or grasslands


A city with a harbor/port where ships load and unload

Growth Pole

Areas used for business development


Network of links including transportation and services


Improvement in human well-being through economic advancement

Package Holiday

A holiday where one price buys hotel, flights, accomodation, meals and transfers to your hotel.


The top of a wave


The movement of water up the beach after a wave breaks.


Water returning to the ocean from waves washing onto a beach.

Prevailing Wind

Direction from which the wind most frequently blows in a given area of the country.

Marine Erosion

The wearing away of rocks by the action of the sea.


The breaking down of rocks by the action of the weather, plants or chemicals.


The movement of sediment along the beach.


Process in which sediment is laid down in new locations.


The sea picking up pebbles and sand and hurling them at the cliff.


Pebbles and sand grinding against the coast in constant collisions as waves break on a beach.

Hydraulic Action

The sheer force of the waves breaking against a cliff causes parts of the cliff to break away.


Sea water dissolving chalk and limestone. Salt spray gets into cracks and joints, when the water evaporates salt crystal remain, which grow and force the rocks apart.


Softer rocks such as clay expand when they are wet and contract when they dry out. This continued process weakens the rocks.


A physical feature that has been shaped by erosion/weathering.


The land that juts out into the sea.

Wave Cut Platform

A flat area of rock in front of a cliff created by cliff retreat


A steep and often vertical column or columns of rock in the sea near a coast, formed by erosion


The landform left from when a stack falls down.

Wave cut notch

a hollow eroded by the impact of waves at the foot of a cliff

Concordant Coastline

Coasts where the rock outcrops run parallel to the sea. Slower erosion than Discordant because of the straighter coast.

Discordant Coastline

Bands of differing rock type run perpendicular (at right angles) to coastline. Differing resistance to erosion leads to formation of headlands and bays.

Slipping Plane

A line of weakness, often where a previous landslide occurred


Material that is eroded and deposited by the action of water or the wind.


An accumulation of sand and shingle.

Longshore Drift

The movement of water and sediment down a beach caused by waves coming in to shore at an angle

Drift aligned beach

Produced where waves break at an angle to the coast. The swash therefore occurs at an angle but the backwash runs perpendicular to the beach. As a result, material is transported along the beach via longshore drift.

Swash Aligned Beach

Produced where the waves break in line (parallel) with the coast. Swash & backwash movements move material up and down the beach producing the aforementioned beach profile features. Swash aligned beaches are smoothy curved, concave beaches. The beach face


A type of bar or beach that develops where a re-entrant occurs, such as at cove's headlands, by the process of longshore drift.

Coastal Bar

Created where a spit grows across a bay, joining two headlands.

Salt Marsh

An area of coastal grassland that is regularly flooded by seawater.


An area where the tide meets a river current

Shoreline Management Plan

Recommends how coastal sub-cells should be managed.

Sediment Cell

An area of coastal management between 2 natural divides.


An area that is being eroded more rapidly within a sediment cell.

Hard Engineering

Controls the power of the sea by building barriers between the sea and the land.

Soft Engineering

Attempts to work with the natural environment to reduce the rate of erosion.


An open structure made of wood or concrete that absorbs the energy of the wave before it hits the coast.

Sea Wall

Human made wall built on land parallel to the shore that is used to stop beach erosion.

Rock Armour

Large Rocks at the foot of the cliffs or in front of the sea wall.


Small rocks held in wire cages, used to manage coastal and sea defenses. They are an example of hard engineering and are cheap yet have a short lifespan.

Offshore Breakwater/Reef

Rocks or other materials built up into offshore bars that make the waves break before they hit the beach.


An artificial structure designed to trap sand moved by longshore drift, therefore protecting the beach.

Beach Replenishment

Moving sand and gravel from the sea bed and putting it back onto the beach.

Beach Recycling

An attempt to even out the beach as some parts gain in size and other parts are eroded.

Beach Reprofiling

Bulldozers pushing material back up the back to create a gently sloping profile.


A system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their physical environment

Coral Reef

A structure of calcite skeletons (Contretions) built up by coral animals in warm, shallow ocean water.

Managed Retreat

A process of allowing low lying areas to flood up to a line of defence inland. Salt Marshes then develop in the newly flooded areas.

Earth Bund

A barrier of mud and sand.

Integrated Coastal Zone Management

Managing a whole coastal area rather than just a narrow strip where the sea meets the land.

Sustainable Management

Meeting the needs of the present while preserving and area for future generations.

Climate Change

An increase in global temperature causing more water to enter the sea from current frozen stores. This causes the sea levels to rise.

Multiplier Effect

Growth linked to one large project that encourages other smaller businesses to grow around it.

Hard Engineering

Physical, man made barriers to reduce the rate of erosion or to encourage deposition.

Soft Engineering

his replaces beach or cliff material that has been removed by erosion or longshore drift. You can also use Managed retreat.