1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Coast

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COAST (from Lat. costa, a rib, side), the part of the land which meets the sea in a line of more or less regular form. The word is sometimes applied to the bank of a river or lake, and sometimes to a region (cf. Gold Coast, Coromandel Coast) which may include the hinterland. If the coast-line runs parallel to a mountain range, such as the Andes, it has usually a more regular form than when, as in the rias coast of west Brittany, it crosses the crustal folds. Again, a recently elevated coast is more regular than one that has been long exposed to wave action. A recently depressed coast will show the irregularities that were impressed upon the surface before submergence. Wave erosion and the action of marine currents are the chief agents in coast sculpture. A coast of homogeneous rock exposed to similar action will present a regular outline, but if exposed to differential action it will be embayed where that action is greatest. A coast consisting of rocks of unequal hardness or of unequal structure will present headlands, “stacks” and “needles” of hard rocks, and bays of softer or more loosely aggregated rocks, when the wave and current action is similar throughout. The southern shore-line of the Isle of Wight and the western coast of Wales are simple examples of this differential resistance. In time the coast becomes “mature” and its outline undergoes little change as it gradually recedes, for the hard rock being now more exposed is worn away faster, but the softer rock more slowly because it is protected in the bays and re-entrants.