Coastal cliff geohazards in weak rock: The UK Chalk cliffs of Sussex
R.N. Mortimore, J. Lawrence, D. Pope, A. Duperret, A. Genter, 2004. "Coastal cliff geohazards in weak rock: The UK Chalk cliffs of Sussex", Coastal Chalk Cliff Instability, R. N. Mortimore, A. Duperret
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Geohazards related to chalk coastal cliffs from Eastbourne to Brighton, Sussex are described. An eight-fold hazard classification is introduced that recognizes the influence of chalk lithology, overlying sediments and weathering processes on location, magnitude and frequency of cliff collapses. Parts of the coast are characterized by cliffs of predominantly a single chalk formation (e.g. Seven Sisters) and other sections are more complex containing several Chalk formations (Beachy Head). Rock properties (intact dry density or porosity) and mass structure vary with each formation and control cliff failure mechanisms and scales of failures. The Holywell Nodular Chalk, New Pit Chalk and Newhaven Chalk formations are characterized by steeply inclined conjugate sets of joints which lead to predominantly plane and wedge failures. However, the dihedral angle of the shears, the fracture roughness and fill is different in each of these formations leading to different rock mass shear strengths. In contrast the Seaford and Culver Chalk formations are characterized by low-density chalks with predominantly clean, vertical joint sets, more closely spaced than in the other formations. Cliff failure types range from simple joint controlled conventional plane and wedge failures to complex cliff collapses and major rock falls (partial flow-slides) involving material failure as well as interaction with discontinuities. Other hazards, related to sediments capping the Chalk cliffs, include mud-slides and sandstone collapses at Newhaven, and progressive failure of Quaternary Head and other valley-fill deposits. Weathering, including the concentration of groundwater flow down dissolution pipes and primary discontinuities, is a major factor on rate
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Most of the rocky coastlines around the world are subject to active erosion processes. Because of the growing hazard to local communities from coastal cliff retreat, it is necessary to investigate where, when and how cliffs collapse. The results of these studies are vital for the planners and local authorities responsible for safety and access to cliffs and beaches. This volume focuses on the coastal chalk cliffs of the English Channel, where a multidisciplinary approach has been used to understand active coastal cliff recession.
The book is organized around three main themes: the geological factors controlling cliff instability, the marine parameters influencing coastal erosion and the use of some new tools for hazard assessments.
This volume will be of use to academics and professionals working on rocky shores, with an interest in sedimentary geology, stratigraphy, tectonics, geomorphology, engineering geology, coastal engineering and GIS.