Jurassic Coast “Unusually Unstable”

On July 6th team members at Everything Dinosaur published an article warning of the dangers of approaching to close to the unstable cliffs on the Jurassic coast.  A number of landslides had already been reported, the recent heavy rains saturating the cliff areas and making them particularly prone to landslips.

The Jurassic Coast

With the start of the school holidays for most of the UK and the onset of some sunny, warm weather in the country (at last), the beaches on the Dorset and Devon coasts are likely to get very crowded.  Council officials have warned fossil collectors and walkers to avoid the cliffs and there is also the added threat of invisible quicksand, areas of dangerous beach that has been created as a result of the recent flooding.

The county of Dorset  is still reeling from the landslide caused by the recent heavy rainfall that took place on July 7th in the area around  the Beaminster Tunnel.  Two people were killed when their car was crushed by hundreds of tonnes of mud.  The bodies were only discovered ten days later when the tunnel was finally cleared of debris.

Dorset council has stated that much of the World Heritage coastline poses a grave danger.

A spokesperson for the council warned of a risk of a landslip “anywhere and at any time along the coast”.

The person went on to add:

“Landslides have also delivered thick mudflows and quicksands to the beaches in many places.  One of the hidden hazards is that the sea can wash sand and shingle over the mud and quicksand, giving the appearance of a solid beach.  The advice is to stay well away from the cliffs at all times and to beware of mudflows and quicksand, especially when the tide is coming in as it is possible to become cut off from the normal exit points from the beaches.”

Risk of Landslides

The council has highlighted a number of known hazard areas between Lyme Regis and the Axmouth Undercliffs.

The list  includes: A massive mudslide at Seven Rock Point on Monmouth Beach, and a landslide at the start of the beach; several mudslides between Lyme Regis and Charmouth; the base of Stonebarrow Cliff east of Charmouth, said to be “shrouded in mudflows” with increased risk of rock fall and a “very real possibility of becoming trapped by the incoming tide.”;

Another substantial landslide has completely blocked the beach between Eype and West Bay to the east of Charmouth.  Temporary signs have been put up to warn tourists, but the council spokesperson stated that the situation was in constant flux.

To view models and replicas of iconic animals, fossils of which are found at Lyme Regis: Replicas of Ammonites and Belemnites.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur, urged visitors to the area to heed the warning signs and to check the local information as well as staying well away from the cliffs.

To read the July 6th Everything Dinosaur article: Dangerous Cliffs in the Lyme Regis Area.

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