Coastal Defence

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The term 'coastal defence' is a much used, but much abused term for referring to any feature along the coast or estuary designed to protect a beach or land. It is more correct, however, to distinguish between two forms of coastal defence. First, flood or sea defences are structures used to prevent the land from being flooded by the sea; examples include earth embankments in estuaries.


The process of land claim means that it is necessary to exclude the sea from part or all of this intertidal area, and also protect this area from reinundation. Land claim for agriculture and industry generally takes in the higher salt marsh because the higher elevation of the intertidal area claimed means, first, that the wave activity will be reduced by the lower marshes and mudflats fronting the area to be reclaimed. (Yates 235-249) In cases where there are not sufficient areas of such deposits fronting the proposed claim, then the area is perhaps not well suited. Second, less material is needed to build up the newly created dry land. Third, the higher the elevation, the lower the sea walls need to be to prevent tidal overtopping. Finally, agriculture needs good-quality farmland, and the upper marshes provide the most 'mature' sediments available in respect of the processes of soil formation. (Archer 103-120; Knecht 183-199)
There are few areas of coastline in the 'developed' world which have not been subject to some form of land claim, defence works, or development. ...
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