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The Sea-Coast of England


THE sea-coast is always a fascinating object to the hydraulic engineer, for besides the varieties of its conditions, it is the place where the most vehement attacks of the orces of nature have to be encountered and provided against. The sea is an ever-present foe, the power of which when lashed into waves by gales is almost incalculable, always quick to pierce any weak point in the defences and to push forward its advantage by enlarging the breach, and sometimes producing widespread ruin before the initial damage can be repaired. Moreover, in some cases, the protection of one part of the coast leads to the weakening of an adjacent portion, and the sea, foiled in a direct attack, overcomes opposition by a sort of flank movement on an unprotected place. On some coasts the gradual advance of the sea can only be checked for a time; and the erosion of the cliffs during storms is promoted by the disintegrating action of rain and frost, the debris being scattered over the beach and eventually carried away by littoral drift.. The rate of encroachment of the sea depends mainly on the exposure of the coast, the slope of the beach and fore-shore, and the nature of the cliffs or shore; for on a very open sea-coast exposed to strong winds, with deep water near the shore, the erosive action of the large waves rolling in is very great, especially when breaking against cliffs composed of clay or other readily disintegrated materials. Irresistible secular changes appear to he taking place along some coasts, for a slow but steady advance of the sea may be noted in some places, and a distinct retrogression observed in other parts. The protection of land against the ravages of the sea must depend upon the value of the land and its position. Where villages and towns have been built alongside the sea-coast, large sums may be advantageously expended in securing such valuable sites from injury, and in forming and preserving promenades in front of them; and where low-lying or reclaimed lands, extending a considerable distance inland, are protected by sea banks, it is very important that these barriers against extensive inundations should be efficiently maintained. In places, how- ever, where long stretches of agricultural land, well above sea-level, bordering the sea-coast are subject to gradual erosion, the cost of adequately protective works would amount to more than the value of the land lost.

The Sea-coast. (1) Destruction, (2) Littoral Drift, (3) Protection.

By W. H. Wheeler. Pp. xii + 361. (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1902.) Price 10s. 6d. net.

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The Sea-Coast of England . Nature 65, iv–vi (1902).

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