The Ventilator

Incorporating The Ranger's Blog

Coastal defence

Landslides don’t destroy coastlines, they create them

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

The Guardian irritatingly brays:

Fossil hunters warned off as landslide destroys Jurassic coastline
Fossil hunters were warned to keep away today after a landslide described as the “biggest in 100 years” destroyed 400 metres of world heritage coastline. Experts were assessing the damage along the Jurassic coast between Lyme Regis and Charmouth in Dorset after the rock fall yesterday evening.

They really have missed the point here.

Mudslide at Charmouth © Juicy Geography

Landslides and coastal erosion don’t destroy coasts – they create them. Would the Dorset coast have been declared a World Heritage Site without landslides? They create a constantly refreshed geological exposure, and if you stop landslides (by putting coastal defences in place, for example) then not only is the natural geological process stopped, but all the animals and plants that depend on those endlessly-renewed habitats are out of a home. So get with it, The Guardian. Destroyed indeed. Pah.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

One thought on “Landslides don’t destroy coastlines, they create them

  • “irritatingly brays” – I love your phrasing.

    I think current conservation efforts and thus the the paradigm that gets pushed out to the public is that to save things they must all remain the same and unchanged. That misses the important fact that many of these things we would “save” are dynamic systems with cycles and rhythms (like seasons or El Nino) and unusual events that happen without warning (like fires, landslides, floods or volcanic eruptions) that nevertheless are a part, sometimes a necessary one, of the system you wish to preserve. I suppose I am saying in a long winded fashion that I agree with your point.


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