Studying Coastal Landscapes

Studying Coastal Landscapes

This term Year 12 Geography students took part in an overnight field trip to the east coast of England to study coastal landscapes, as part of the module on the study of physical systems.

The module is part of the new OCR A level syllabus and specifically focuses on the inter-relationships between the land, oceans and atmosphere.

‘It helps students to understand the processes, characteristics and impacts on these landscapes and cycles, which shape them over time and create a number of issues when attempting to manage them,’ said Mr Naylor.

One of the case studies covered in the module examined the impact of causal erosion on the east coastline, and as such the trip included a visit to the Holderness Coast, which is the fastest eroding coastline in Europe.

‘This trip helped me to understand the concepts behind the study of coastal landscapes and helped bring the case studies to life. It was a great introduction to the subject’ said Iqra Nawaz.

The trip also offered a valuable opportunity for students to develop fieldwork skills, including systematic sampling and the techniques used to ensure accurate measurements.

Students visited Flamborough Head where they measured the beach profile using a clinometer, and took a measure of the long-shore drift using corks – this involved measuring the distance and direction of a cork placed in the water, taking into account wind speed and direction, thus giving to give a value of coastal drift. .

‘Sediment protects the coast from being eroded so it is important to regularly monitor these levels’, said Iqra Nawaz.

‘We therefore measured and compared sediment sizes and studied the angularity of the beach, which has a huge impact on the distribution of the sediment. Studying the long-shore drift also helped us to understand how the sediment is distributed’ she added.

Students also visited Hornsea, Mappleton and Withernsea to study the impact of coastal management.

‘Our case study centred around the residents living on the bolder clay and the problems brought about by the use of ‘groynes’ coastal-erosion systems, which are man-made methods using timber structures. We saw how the sediment can gather behind these groynes which protects some of the coast but leaves another part totally exposed’, explained Zara Khan.

‘This trip proved really valuable, as it made the syllabus come to life and helped us gain a better understanding of coastal erosion’.