Difference Between Jetty and Pier

Key Difference – Jetty vs Pier
 

The two terms jetty and pier are often used interchangeably to refer to a structure that projects from the land out into the water. Although the two terms are often used as synonyms, there is a distinct difference between jetty and pier. The key difference between jetty and pier is that a jetty protects the coastline from the current and tides whereas a pier does not disturb the current or tide due to its open structure.

What is a Pier?

A pier is a platform on pillars projecting from the shore into the water. Piers are often supported by well-spaced pillars or piles. This open structure allows the tide and current to flow through relatively undisturbed. Piers are normally made out of wood. The size and complexity of a pier may differ. Piers are built for several purposes, and the term pier may also have different nuances in different parts of the world. In Australia and North America, the term pier tends to refer to a cargo handling facility. However, in Europe, the term pier is mainly associated with pleasure pier.

Handling passengers and cargo is one of the main purposes of a pier. A pier can also provide berths for smaller boats. It can also provide a fishing place for boatless anglers.

Difference Between Jetty and Pier

What is a Jetty?

A jetty is a long, narrow structure that stretches from the shore into the water. It is usually made of wood, stone, earth or concrete. Unlike a pier, a jetty has a solid wall down to the water bed. In other words, it is not raised with the support of pillars. Thus, a jetty protects the coastline from the currents and tides since its solid structure can change the path of the current.  However, this distinction is not taken into consideration when naming piers and jetties since these two words are used as synonyms in common parlance.

Jetties are also be used to connect the land with deep water farther away from shore to dock ships and unload cargo. Jetties in pairs often flank either side of a river as it enters the water, to prevent silting at the mouth.

Key Difference - Jetty vs Pier

What is the difference between Jetty and Pier?

Meaning

Jetty is a long, narrow structure that stretches from the shore into the water

Pier is a platform on pillars projecting from the shore into the water.

Impact on the Tide and Current

Jetty can change the path of the tide and current.

Pier allows the tide and current to flow through relatively undisturbed.

However, these two terms are often used as synonyms.

Image Courtesy:
“Humboldt Bay and Eureka aerial view” By Robert Campbell – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library  (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
“Lake mapourika NZ.” By Richard Palmer (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia