• jetty
    A stone and concrete jetty pierces the Gulf of Mexico.

    Photograph by J. Baylor Roberts

    A jetty is a long, narrow structure that protects a coastline from the currents and tides. Jetties are usually made of wood, earth, stone, or concrete. They stretch from the shore into the water.

    Currents and tides of an oceancan gradually wash away a beach or other features along the coastline. This is called erosion. Strong river currents or waves from a lake can also erode a coastline. Jetties protect the shoreline of a body of water by acting as a barrier against erosion from currents, tides, and waves.

    Jetties can also be used to connect the land with deep water farther away from shore for the purposes of docking ships and unloading cargo. This type of jetty is called a pier.

    Jetties can be popular tourist attractions. They usually provide safe access to coastal areas. The Swakopmund jetty in the African country of Namibia was constructed with iron in 1905 in order to protect the towns harbor from gathering too much silt, or sediment. This jetty was renovated in 2006 and is popular with tourists because of the view it offers of Namibias coastline.

    The most famous jetty is probably Spiral Jetty, a large sculpture created by the artist Robert Smithson in 1970. Spiral Jetty is on the northeast shore of the Great Salt Lake, in the U.S. state of Utah. Smithson constructed the 4,500 457-meter (1,500-foot) jetty out of rock and earth. Its unusual shape twists in a circular, counter-clockwise direction.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    barrier Noun

    obstacle or object that prevents movement.

    beach Noun

    narrow strip of land that lies along a body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: beach
    cargo Noun

    goods carried by a ship, plane, or other vehicle.

    coastline Noun

    outer boundary of a shore.

    concrete Noun

    hard building material made from mixing cement with rock and water.

    counter-clockwise Adjective

    circular motion to the left.

    current Noun

    steady, predictable flow of fluid within a larger body of that fluid.

    Encyclopedic Entry: current
    dock Verb

    to bring and secure a ship or boat to a space or facility.

    earth Noun

    soil or dirt.

    erosion Noun

    act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.

    Encyclopedic Entry: erosion
    harbor Noun

    part of a body of water deep enough for ships to dock.

    Encyclopedic Entry: harbor
    iron Noun

    chemical element with the symbol Fe.

    jetty Noun

    structure protecting a harbor or inlet from a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: jetty
    lake Noun

    body of water surrounded by land.

    pier Noun

    platform built from the shore and extending over water.

    renovate Verb

    to restore or make better.

    river Noun

    large stream of flowing fresh water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: river
    Robert Smithson Noun

    (1938-1973) American artist.

    sediment Noun

    solid material transported and deposited by water, ice, and wind.

    Encyclopedic Entry: sediment
    silt Noun

    small sediment particles.

    Encyclopedic Entry: silt
    Spiral Jetty Noun

    (1970) earth and rock sculpture along the shore of the Great Salt Lake in the U.S. state of Utah.

    stone Noun

    piece of rock.

    tourist Noun

    person who travels for pleasure.

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