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Scientists record massive coastal erosion in Cornwall

By WBGraeme  |  Posted: February 13, 2014

  • Experts from Plymouth University at Loe Bar near Porthleven

  • Tending the seismometer on the cliffs above Porthleven Sands

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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.

“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.

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  • bettysenior  |  February 17 2014, 7:57PM

    Because government only listen to themselves per se and their advisers who tell them what they want to hear, our coastal defences and erosion will continue infinitum. I remember a certain 'northern' engineer who saw Blair and his so-called wise advisers in Downing Street and where he told them that he could solve two of the UK's environmental and economic problems in one combined endeavour. For this sixty year old engineer had invented a way to transform land waste into costal defence material and thereby killing two birds with the same stone or getting two jobs done for the price of one. Did Blair and his experts take up the solutions as he was just a mere inventor? The answer to that is an emphatic NO. This is why successive governments never get it right and therefore solve our most pressing problems as they are so wrapped-up in themselves and no-one outside the 'establishment' has the answers in their superior minds and thinking. Ignorance, complacency, negligence, a lack of intuition, vested-interests, creativity and a real sense of duty stops them from doing anything. That's why things that are happening now where our coastline is receding by the year and we are not able to withstand the onslaught of nature, we are defeated. But it has to be said that if government listened to the people's ingenious thinking, things would be far, far better than just doing nothing as is the case without exception with government thinking. Indeed according to history over 75% of the fundamental thinking that has made the modern world what it is today emanated not from our universities or advanced R&D centres but from the minds of the people and outside these elitist systems. A basic truth of humanity's creative history. Stopping 'coastal erosion' and preventing river breaches at the same time fixing our 'sea-defences' as an island together with eradicating land-fill tips – http://tinyurl.com/nkblgwh The 'Innovation Chain' and why it is so important for our Future – http://tinyurl.com/pmv5ly3 Dr David Hill Chief Executive World Innovation Foundation

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