GCSE Geography: Coastal Management - Soft 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 - soft and hard engineering options. Soft options often see the use of strategy involving the natural landscape along a coastline. 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 Engineering Options along Coasts include:


  • Beach Nourishment - This option involves the replenishment of beach material lost by the processes involved in longshore drift or weathering/erosion. It can be done by pumping sand far out from the meeting point between beach and sea up onto eroded parts of the beach. This is effective for the local economy too, as beaches generally attract tourism to the local areas. This option does however require constant monitoring and maintenance as beach erosion is a continual and often relatively rapid occurance.


  • Managed Retreat - Similar to managed flooding with rivers, low value areas of land along the coast that don't contain agricultural farmland or settlements, are kept unused and are allowed to naturally flood or erode. This is becuase it naturally encourages the formation of beaches and salt marshes. Beaches are a natural coastal defence as they absorb the energy and power of oncoming waves, and salt marshes are good for the environment as well as acting as a flood defence.


As with all defences, soft engineering options have advantages and disadvantages. They are relatively inexpensive options compared to hard engineering choices, and have less impact on the environment. They are also much more sustainable, economically and environmentally. They can, however, need constant maintenance like beach nourishment, as well as stop settlements being able to be built near coastlines. For any housing that is built along the coastline however, if damage is done by flooding or erosion, government bodies will be liable to pay compensation to residents living there.


Make sure to listen to our music video on Soft Engineering Options for Coasts, remember all the lyrics, and then take a shot at our test!


Back to all blog posts


Keeping you posted

Keep up-to-date with the latest news, products and events from LearnThruMusic.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more content.

See all blog posts

Recent Posts


Responsive, lightweight, fast, synchronized with CSS animations, fully customizable modal window plugin with declarative configuration and hash tracking.