Rocky coasts occur along more than one-third (37%) of the Atlantic continental European coastline, approximately 3666 km, often forming vertical cliffs and characteristically gently sloping shore platforms. The continental European Atlantic rocky coasts show a great variability of rock types and structural contexts, as well as different wave climates and tidal ranges. Through a review of previously published data on cliff retreat rates and shore platform erosion measured on monthly, seasonal, annual and decadal timescales, this paper highlights the different processes and agents, their magnitude and frequency in shaping rocky coasts. In particular, the links between cliff retreat, shore platform evolution, present dynamics and inheritance (understood as whether platform and other rock coast features were shaped by a higher sea level than the present) comprise one of the major contributions from continental European Atlantic rocky coasts to a global understanding of rock coast coastal geomorphology.
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Rocky landforms dominate large portions of the world's coast. Cliffs and shore platforms form spectacular landscapes, yet when compared to other landforms they are relatively unstudied with many contemporary controversies dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. The past decade has seen a reinvigoration of research driven by advances in technology that now enable precise measurements of erosion to the micron scale and quantification of wave energy onto and through cliff edifices to be made, as well as being able to directly date rock surfaces. In order to integrate this diverse range of research this volume's regional approach first integrates the latest data with longstanding theory and then analyses this research through the boundary conditions that exist in each area. The volume brings together the research leaders in the field; includes chapters on nearly all the major rock coasts of the world and identifies future research needs.