GCSE Geography: Coastal Management - Hard Engineering Options

23rd August 2017

GCSE Geography Revision - Made Easy!

All you need to know about Hard Engineering Options for Coastal Management!


Erosion from the sea and weathering are the two main causes for the physical transformation of coastlines. It involves the wearing and breaking down of rocks. Both hard and soft rock are found on coastlines and these erode at different rates (see our song "Headlands and Bays"), meaning castal defences are necessary to combat erosion at high levels.


Similarly to engineering options with rivers, there are two groups of methods for controlling erosion - hard and soft engineering options. Hard options often see man-made, constructed/manufactured pieces of equipment used to stop or lessen the damage caused by erosion or longshore drift. Soft options often see the use of strategy involving the natural landscape along a coastline.


Hard Engineering Options along Coasts include:


  • Seawalls - These are large concrete constructions that create a curved barrier/wall along the coastline, usually in places without a beach to absorb the energy of waves. These are constructed to recycle the power of a wave back onto itself, away from the coastline it is protecting, becuase the curve redirects the water up and back out to sea. This prevents the wave's evergy impacting the hard or soft rock or settlements behind it.


  • Groynes - These are long structures, usually made of wood or concrete, that are placed along a beach to prevent longshore drift and beach erosion. Longshore drift is the process by which prevailing winds cause waves' swahes and backwashes to zig-zag down the beach, meaning the material they pick up and deposit further down the shore can rob a beach of all of its sand. Groynes jut out into the sea, so that when a wave comes in at an angle to pick up and deposit material, the material is prevented form moving further down the beach as it is caught by the groyne.


  • Rock Armour - Also known as Boulder Barriers, rock armour consists of a large number of huge rocks, shaped or unshaped by engineers, placed along the coastline similarly to a seawall. These rocks are used as a shield, and simply take the damage of erosion from the wave's energy instead of the land it is protecting.


There are advantages and disadvantages of hard engineering options on coasts, as with any method of defence. They are hardwearing, and extremely good at the job they have been designed for, protecting the coastline and settlements behind it. However they are often extremely expensive options to impliment, due to the transportation of large rocks and construction pieces, the construction of the defences themselves, and long term impact of expensive replacements when wave energy has eroded too much of the defence away.


Make sure to check out our music video on Hard Engineering Options for Coasts, remember the lyrics, and then have a go at our test!


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