Landforms of Coastal Erosion

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Landforms of Coastal Erosion

Headlands and Bays

These features are created due to the difference in resistance between various rock types along the coastline. More resistant rocks form headlands that jut out into the sea, while softer, less resistant rocks get eroded faster and form bays.


Cliffs are steep rock faces formed through the process of weathering and erosion. They often occur along coasts where wave action is strong and can erode the base of the landform, causing rock above to collapse and retreat landwards.

The formation of bays and headlands

Wave-Cut Platforms

Wave-cut platforms are flat, rocky surfaces left behind as the sea erodes cliffs and the land retreats. They are formed by the constant breaking of waves at the base of the cliffs, causing undercutting.

The formation of a wave cut platform

The formation of a wave-cut platform

Caves, Arches, Stacks and Stumps

These features often form along headlands. Continuous erosion by waves on a headland can create a cave. When a cave is eroded through a headland, an arch is formed. Over time, the top of the arch can collapse due to erosion and gravity, leaving a column of rock called a stack. Further erosion at the base can cause a stack to collapse, leaving a stump. This sequential process illustrates the power of erosional forces along the coast.

Erosion of a headland

Erosion of a headland


  • Erosion forms bays in softer rock areas and headlands in resistant rock areas.

  • Erosion on a headland leads to the sequential formation of a cave, arch, stack, and, eventually, a stump.

  • Persistent wave action forms a flat, extensive slope at some cliff bases, known as a wave-cut platform.

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