Coastal Landforms

If you get a buzz every time you answer a question correctly on University Challenge in front of your family, imagine how smug you’ll feel when you can identify coastal landforms next time you’re all out for a stroll by the sea. Learn these and prepare to feel a smugness never felt in the realm of smug before...



Narrow stretch of land connecting two larger landmasses, bordered by water on both sides.They’re of strategic importance as they allow migration from one landmass to another and are natural sites for ports and canals.





A type of isthmus that forms when tides and waves create a narrow strip of land, usually of sand or shingle, between a coastal island and the mainland.The island connected to the mainland is known as a ‘tied island’.






A stretch of beach extending out to sea, joined to the mainland at one end. Spits are the result of longshore drift in areas where the waves meet the beach at an oblique angle, leading to marine deposition.






A cluster of islands in a body of water, usually the sea. Most of our archipelagos were formed when volcanoes erupted from the ocean floor, though there are other processes that create them.






Small rocky islands, usually too small for habitation, found off a rocky coast. Generally intertidal but sometimes they extend above high tide.Also known as a ‘low sea stack’ they are found in Scandinavia and Scotland. 






Words by contributing editor Duncan Haskell

Illustrations by Ruth Allen;