Scientists record massive coastal erosion in Cornwall
EXPERTS have found the equivalent of three Olympic-sized swimming pools of cliff has been swept from a short stretch of shore around Porthleven.
The shocking scale of the loss of tonnes of soil and rock due to erosion over the past month is more than 850 times the normal expected levels.
Scientists from Plymouth University set up a monitoring station above the bar, including a seismometer – which is usually used for earthquakes – to monitor the impact of the recent ferocious waves.
The team’s Professor Paul Russell said: “At one point, the level of the beach in front of the cliff fell by more than four metres on a single tide, which is an amazing amount.
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“This then exposes the cliff to even bigger waves, thus accelerating the cliff erosion.”
He said 8,500 cubic metres of material has been swept away from the 200-metre stretch near Loe Bar.
From October to November last year, there was a 1 per cent change to the cliff face. From November to January that figure rose to 47 per cent.
He said this was the first time that a university in the UK has used this equipment for such research and the first time ever that a seismometer has been used to monitor such stormy conditions.
The team have borrowed it from an American marine research institute which is helping them go through the data.
The researchers also used video, pressure sensors in the cliffs and a laser scanner to measure the impact of waves on the beach.
Professor Russell added: “By measuring the beach morphology in front of the cliff and laser scanning the cliff face, we can measure the amount of erosion that is occurring to both the beach and the cliff.”
He said the seismometer had to be moved after just seven days because it was in danger of falling into the sea itself.