Using Hard Stabilization on Shorelines

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Alternatives to Hard Stabilization: Beach Nourishment & Relocation

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:06 Coastal Erosion
  • 0:57 Hard Stabilization
  • 2:35 Groins
  • 3:27 Breakwaters and Seawalls
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Shorelines erode under the force of waves. This changes beaches and can result in property damage. Learn about hard stabilization structures, such as groins, breakwaters and sea walls and how they are used to protect against erosion.

Coastal Erosion

Imagine you were living in your dream home, somewhere along the coast. This beautiful home overlooks the ocean, and every morning you can sit out on your deck and watch the ocean waves lap up onto the sand. When you bought the home years ago, you imagined that this would be your home for the rest of your life. However, as the years have gone by, you have been noticing that the beach has become smaller and the waves from the ocean are getting closer and closer to your home with every passing year.

This wearing away of coastal land and beaches is referred to as coastal erosion. It is a concern for many coastal communities and owners of beachfront properties. In this lesson, you will learn how hard stabilization structures, such as groins, breakwaters and seawalls are used to protect beachfront properties and the coast from erosion.

Hard Stabilization

Beaches and shorelines are dynamic places that are in a constant state of change due to forces that act upon them, such as waves and currents. Coastal erosion is constantly happening because waves are constantly hitting the beach and shoreline structures. However, this process can be accelerated by storms, which produce large waves that crash onto shore with a lot of energy. Erosion of beaches and shorelines can negatively impact the lives of people living along the coast and cause costly damage to their properties.

Therefore, coastal communities are often willing to invest in hard stabilization, which is the use of man-made protective structures to control erosion. While hard stabilization structures help slow erosion caused by waves, they also prevent the shifting of sand along the beach. Sand and sediment are constantly moving parallel to the shoreline due to the force of waves that strike the shore at an angle. Waves rarely strike the shore straight on. Instead, we see a phenomenon called wave refraction, in which the waves bend as they travel toward the shallow waters of the shore.

These oblique waves create the longshore drift, which is the process by which sand and sediment are transported along the coast. The longshore drift can be responsible for the loss of beach sand from an area, and you can imagine that people who own homes, restaurants or hotels along that stretch of beach suffer from this loss. They do not want to watch the beach in front of their property deteriorate as sand is washed down the coast.


Therefore, coastal communities build structures to try to contain the sand. A groin is a hard stabilization structure built at a right angle to the shore to maintain or widen beaches. A groin is built to trap sand that is moving down the coast due to the natural action of waves and currents. Groins may be built in groups in order to protect long stretches of beach. These hard structures, stretching from the beach and out into the water, confine sand to a designated area.

However, they do not stop waves. Therefore, sand can still move between the groins. This results in sand accumulating on the upstream side of the groin and eroding from the downstream side. This can create new problems because it modifies the shape of the beach and can negatively affect beaches down the coast.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account