THE ACTION OF WAVES, TIDES AND CURRENTS

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The action of the wind passing over a stretch of sea causes waves to develop and when the waves reach the coast they cause erosion or deposition.

Wind passing over water sets up turbulences, which causes ripples and then waves develop. It is important to realize that waves advance in the same direction as the wind and that in deep water, the water particles do not advance forward but in fact rotate more in the same area.

The coastline, under the constant action of the waves, tides and currents, is undergoing changes from day to day. On calm days, when winds are slight, waves do little damage to the shoreline and may instead help to build up beaches and other depositional features.

It is in storms that the ravages of the waves reach their greatest magnitude The average pressure of Atlantic waves on adjacent coasts is about 2932 kg per sq m (600 lb. per square foot) in the summer and treble that in winter. During storms, the pressure exerted is more than 29 320 kg per sq m (6000 lb per square foot). Movements of such intensity will wear down not only the cliffs but also sea walls and buildings.

Tides and currents, on contact with the shores, make very little direct attack on the coastline. Tides affect marine erosion mainly by extending what would have been a line of erosion into a zone of erosion. This zone corresponds to the area between the low water level and the high water level. Currents help to move eroded debris and deposit it as silt, sand and gravel along the coasts.

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