Articles | Volume 11, issue 11
Review article
09 Nov 2011
Review article |  | 09 Nov 2011

A geotechnical and GIS based method for evaluating risk exposition along coastal cliff environments: a case study of the chalk cliffs of southern England

A. Stavrou, J. A. Lawrence, R. N. Mortimore, and W. Murphy

Abstract. The present work has established a methodology that allows the user to determine areas susceptible to shoreline recession and cliff instability. This methodology includes the development of a qualitative loss estimation system which utilizes geotechnical field mapping observations and shoreline retreat predictions to estimate the exposition of critical infrastructure to hazards posed by cliff collapse and retreat. The technique identifies hazardous areas along coastal cliff environments. The assessment was undertaken along the cliff section between Brighton Marina and Portobello, East Sussex, UK. The cliff line was divided into 22 sections according to the cliff's geology. Each of these sections was mapped and described with respect to the lithology and possible failures that could occur. Historical shoreline recession analysis was used for the prediction of future shoreline positions. The prediction of future shorelines was performed by using the Digital Shoreline Analysis System, extension of ESRI's ArcView 9.x. The analysis was based on historical maps and aerial photographs dating from 1873 to 2005. The long term average cliff recession rates clearly show that cliff retreat has declined through time due to the presence of coast protection and cliff stability measures. Although these measures have delayed cliff recession to a great extent, they have not eliminated it.