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To what extent are coastal landforms products to marine processes?

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To what extent are coastal landforms products to marine processes?

By Raya Racheva 5IB

The coast is the boundary on the ocean where the land, sea and air meet and interact with each other, and influenced by the human activity shape the diverse, ever changing forms of the coastal terrain. The various processes that act on the coastline, like terrestrial, atmospheric, marine and human impact, make it impossible for the landforms to resemble. Even though each of the factors mentioned above are present at all time and they all have their part in the development of the coastal landforms, this essay will look at how big is the role of the marine processes in specific and are there other factors that can be considered as mostly acting on the coasts.

On the coastal terrain, from the zone where the salt spray, sea water and sand blown by the wind towards the inland extend, to the place on the sea bed to which waves can move sediment, the landforms are defined into different types. Rocky shores, coastal wetlands, sandy beaches, coral reefs are all products of the constant actions of water, humans, and atmosphere.

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Marine processes have big role in the formation of depositional and erosional landforms as they depend on the energy of the waves and sediment brought by the sea and rivers available. The destructive waves of high energy and the constructive waves of low energy help shape not only beaches and tombolos as explained above, but also a variety of other depositional landforms like spits, bay-bars, off-shore bars, sand dunes, salt marshes, deltas, barrier islands.

Spits are formed when sediments moved along the coast by the swash and backwash of the waves (the longshore drift) are deposited in linear form with one side attached to the land, usually across a river mouth (fig. 3). If a river current does not interrupt the building of these deposits, the spit can reach other part of the coast, connect to it and form a bar (fig. 4).

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The gravity of the sun and the moon is the reason for the tides that form on earth; the waves are formed not only by the wind on the surface of the water, but also by tectonic movements; submerged landforms like rias, dalmation coast and fjords, and emerged landforms like raised beaches are all created by sea-level changes, which are consequences of the ever changing climate; the protection walls built perpendicular to the shoreline with the intention to protect the land from erosion actually denature the coast forming beaches that would not naturally appear without these conditions. These facts lead to the conclusion that the processes responsible for the landscaping are all interrelated. Marine processes cannot occur without the presence of the atmospheric and terrestrial features and the impact of human activity on the coasts is inevitable. In addition, even though each process has its own part in the constructing of coastal landforms, their great interdependence makes it hard to conclude the extent to which either one of them is most important.  

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