Cliffs and wave-cut platforms are landforms commonly found along the coast.
Processes of coastal erosion and weathering are responsible for shaping cliffs. Less resistant (soft) rock erodes quickly, forming gentle sloping cliffs. More resistant (hard) rock forms steep cliffs.
Where cliffs are made from more resistant rock, wave-cut platforms are often formed. A wave-cut platform is a wide, gently sloping surface found at the cliff’s base and extends into the sea. The image below shows a wave-cut platform formed at Flamborough, Holderness Coast.
A wave-cut platform is formed when:
- The sea attacks a weakness in the base of the cliff. For example, this could be a joint in chalk.
- A wave-cut notch is created by erosional processes such as hydraulic action and abrasion.
A wave-cut notch
- As the notch becomes larger, the cliff becomes unstable and collapses as the result of gravity.
- The cliff retreats inland.
- The material from the collapsed cliff face is eroded and transported away. This leaves a wave-cut platform.
- The process repeats over time.
The formation of a wave-cut platform