Jurassic coast retreat

Jurassic coast retreat
The Jurassic coastline of Dorset was yesterday reaching the national headlines this time, it was not due to a rare find of ancient fossils but due to a substantial landslide and rockfall.

Incredible images of the extent of the landslip and rockfall can be seen in this BBC news piece1. Two sections of the cliffs have collapsed, one at Thorncombe where following a rockfall new cracks are developing so there is an expectation of further movement and additional rockfalls.

The second is at Seatown where a large 300 metre section of the coast has slipped into the sea and which has split the beach into two sections. The falls have not reached the coastal path however there is ongoing monitoring of the situation.

The geology of the area is well documented and comprises layers of sand and clays. With the dryer weather of the Spring and Summer coming, the ground is drying out and there could be additional collapses. These collapses can occur very quickly. It is for this reason that the authorities have quite rightly requested that people should avoid the tops and base of the cliffs2.

What is certain is that future collapses of this coastline will occur and the cliff line will therefore continue to retreat.

For those who are interested, The Geological Society are currently running a series of presentations in relation to geological hazards in the UK which includes landslides and slope stability hazards. Additional information can be found in their recent Special Publication No29 which is referred to in the presentation series3.

If you are looking to purchase land or property, as part of the due diligence process, your solicitor can request a suitable report that will cover the risks from the hazards associated with slope stability. These can be easily covered off by obtaining a Groundsure GeoRisk report. As a purchaser you will then be able to weigh up the risks and liability issues that come with the ownership of property potentially affected by these issues.


1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-56731797
2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-54960558
3. Giles & Griffiths – Geological Hazards in the UK: Their Occurence, Monitoring and Mitigation Geological Society Engineering Geology Special Publication No.29. The Geological Society of London 2020.

Back to Groundblog


Apr 16, 2021

Paul Raglan