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Land forms and landscapes

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Cancun, Mexico’s premier tourist destination is located in south-eastern Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. The Yucatan Peninsula separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea. Cancun was established on uninhabited barrier islands. It now has a population of more than 600,000, this population is made up of mainly poor Mexicans who have travelled many miles in search of work. Most of these people have ended up settling in Cancun and buying their own homes. Cancun may be a major tourist attraction but is also has many problems such as an increased rate of erosion, damage for the many hurricanes it experiences and more than 3 milion visitors a year.

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One of the many environmental challenges that Cancun has been facing for the past two decades is erosion. Erosion is the process of sand being washed or blown off the beach causing the beach to be worn away. Erosion in Cancun has been intensified by local and regional development activities. Construction may not seem harmful, but it is a trigger to many costal problems such as the hotels being too heavy. This may not seem like a problem, but it is, the sheer weight of the high-rise hotels compacts on the lose or unsettled rock, this means that the rock underneath the hotels is the unable to absorb or store any excess water. This can also lead to a higher occurrence of slope failure. Most of the original vegetation and costal mangroves on the sand dunes and beaches have been removed. This means that there is nothing left to protect the shoreline in storms and the many hurricanes that occur. Having no vegetation to protect the shoreline means that there is an increased rate of beach deflation. Beach Deflation is the process of wind lifting and transporting lighter particles or the fine sediment from a dry surface. Leaving behind a surface of coarse grained sand and rocks. The particles that were removed are then transported or blown by the wind to another region, there they may form sand dunes. HAurricanes are yet another environmental challenge that Cancun faces. Over time they have been becoming more and more frequent. A few years back in 1988 hurricane Gilbert tore through Cancun creating the irreversible problem of erosion at both the north and south ends of the beach.

But a bit more recently in 2005 Cancun was hit by hurricane Wilma, 8 miles of the beach was destroyed overnight, sea walls were demolished, and many resorts and buildings suffered from flooding and extensive structural damage to the buildings. There were many attempts of beach restoration. But in the process of pumping the sand off the seafloor sea life was disturbed and damaged and so was the seafloor itself. The pumping of the fine sediment near coral reefs also had harmful impacts.a

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