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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Swirad, Z.M., Rosser, N.J., Brain, M.J., Rood, D.H., Hurst, M.D., Wilcken, K.M. & Barlow, J. Cosmogenic exposure dating reveals limited long-term variability in erosion of a rocky coastline. Nature Communications. 2020;11:3804.

Author(s) from Durham


Predicted sea-level rise and increased storminess are anticipated to lead to increases in coastal erosion. However, assessing if and how rocky coasts will respond to changes in marine conditions is difficult due to current limitations of monitoring and modelling. Here,we measured cosmogenic 10Be concentrations across a sandstone shore platform in North Yorkshire, UK, to model the changes in coastal erosion within the last 7 kyr and for the first time quantify the relative long-term erosive contribution of landward cliff retreat, and down wearing and stripping of rock from the shore platform. The results suggest that the cliff has been retreating at a steady rate of 4.5 ± 0.63 cm yr-1, whilst maintaining a similar profile form. Our results imply a lack of a direct relationship between relative sea level over centennial to millennial timescales and the erosion response of the coast, highlighting a need to more fully characterise the spatial variability in, and controls on, rocky coast erosion under changing conditions.

Department of Geography