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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Monday, October 13, 2008

Caught out on Coasts?

Categories: Coasts
I was recently involved in a discussion which had me questioning my knowledge of coasts. A query had been posed about beaches and beach profiles. I had always been of the view that high energy waves (destructive waves) formed steep beaches and low energy constructive waves formed gently sloping beaches. This link seemed to confirm everything that I had thought. In hindsight, after some responses to the aforementioned question, I now think I have looked at this from a very simplistic viewpoint. For instance, what would the influence of a headland be in the energy of waves reaching a bay? Would it not act as a wave break in a way? A colleague also made the point that high energy waves with a strong backwash, although dragging material out to sea will, by depositing it in deeper water, eventually create sediment bars which will lead to shallower water, earlier breaking waves( still the same high energy waves?) and more deposition. Maybe I've been getting too bogged down in what happens during storms to the coastline, but I have to admit, I'm still a little confused as to how I'd teach this without muddling the minds of my classes (more than usual :-0).
Today, I had an urgent errand to run which fortunately resulted in myself and the kids heading down to Prestwick beach after it. It was freezing, the waves were big, the beach wide and flat, the dunes high and debris everywhere at the shore. I couldn't help thinking about the discussions I'd had just a few days previously, and hopefully my own knowledge of coasts has been improved as a results. For anyone who's ineterested, here are some videos and photos of the beach and sand dunes today:

You'd never see this in the summer...

Dune succession

Dunes at Prestwick

and finally, for my boy, Paddy's Milestone, Ailsa Craig from the shore - gave my story about a giant throwing it much more credibility when I showed him it!


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