The Dorset coast is an area with a long history of landslide activity and coastal erosion. Geologically the area is composed of the clays, mudstones and limestones of several divisions of the Lower Jurassic (Lower Lias) which are overlain unconformably by Cretaceous clays and sands (Gault and Upper Greensand.) Areas of serious instability appear to occur in close association with naturally occurring reservoirs of ground water, of which Black Ven at Char-mouth is a good example.
Problems connected with a small coastal landslip near a private housing estate at Char-mouth were studied and shown to be related to a Pleistocene mudflow. The main purpose of the investigation was to suggest remedial works but the subsidiary aim, forming the theme of this paper, was to assess the usefulness of shallow depth geophysical and geotechnical methods not normally used in instability studies.