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The effect of coastal defences on cliff top retreat along the Holderness coastline

Sally Brown, Max E. Barton and Robert J. Nicholls
The effect of coastal defences on cliff top retreat along the Holderness coastline
Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society (May 2012) 59 (1): 1-13


This study investigates variations in soft cliff retreat and the impact of coastal defenses along 55 km of the Holderness coast between 1845 and 2005. The analysis of three approximately 50-year periods (1854-1905, 1905-1952, 1952-2005) gives a retreat rate of between 0.8+ or -0.4 m/yr and 2.1+ or -0.4 m/yr. Retreat varies spatially and temporally due to natural causes and human activity, especially 19 (super th) century beach mining and coastal defense construction. Defenses reduce sediment input and modify the sediment budget, usually resulting in a sediment deficit down-drift, leading to the development of a set-back. Using data from historical and modern Ordnance Survey maps, aerial photographs, and Differential Geographical Positioning System (DGPS) surveys, the cliff top was selected as a reference feature. Set-back due to defense construction at Barmston, Hornsea (two periods), Mappleton and Withernsea (two periods) was analyzed, giving six different time periods. Short time periods are unreliable due to large mapping uncertainties and natural variability. Two cases showed excess retreat for tens to thousands of meters down-drift over a long time period since defense construction. Two cases were indicative of excess retreat, but require more time to elapse after defense construction (in these cases >20 years) to reach a definitive conclusion. Two cases were inconclusive, but possibly maintained a constant retreat rate post-defense construction. Hence, at the scale of Holderness, defenses have changed the pattern of erosion rather than stopping it. Accelerated retreat down-drift of defenses can threaten human infrastructure and buildings and reduce the efficiency of defenses. This should be recognized in shoreline management planning.

ISSN: 0044-0604
EISSN: 2041-4811
Serial Title: Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society
Serial Volume: 59
Serial Issue: 1
Title: The effect of coastal defences on cliff top retreat along the Holderness coastline
Affiliation: University of Southampton, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, Southampton, United Kingdom
Pages: 1-13
Published: 201205
Text Language: English
Publisher: Yorkshire Geological Society, Leeds, United Kingdom
References: 64
Accession Number: 2017-021422
Categories: Geomorphology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 2 tables, sketch maps
N53°19'60" - N54°40'00", W02°30'00" - E00°10'00"
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from The Geological Society, London, London, United Kingdom
Update Code: 201715
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