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.

jetty
A stone and concrete jetty pierces the Gulf of Mexico.
barrier
Noun

obstacle or object that prevents movement.

Noun

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

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.

Noun

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

dock
Verb

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

earth
Noun

soil or dirt.

Noun

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

Noun

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

iron
Noun

chemical element with the symbol Fe.

Noun

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

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.

Noun

large stream of flowing fresh water.

Robert Smithson
Noun

(1938-1973) American artist.

Noun

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

Noun

small sediment particles.

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.