Estimating long-term cliff recession rates from shore platform widths

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Coastal cliff erosion is a problem in many coastal areas. However, often only very limited data are available to quantify the rates of recession for the development of coastal management strategies. In the soft flysch deposits of the Waitemata Group, Auckland, New Zealand, coastal cliffs are associated with shore platforms. Two models exist for the profile evolution of shore platforms and associated cliffs: The first suggests that an equilibrium profile develops in response to erosive processes, and this profile subsequently migrates landward; the second model suggests that the seaward margin of the shore platform is relatively static, and the profile extends landward through a combination of cliff recession and platform lowering. Physical simulations and field measurements for mudstone and limestone lithologies indicate that the second model is more likely for soft flysch deposits. A eustatic sea-level curve for the Weiti Estuary, Auckland, suggests that up to 7120 ± 70 years have been available for shore platform development since sea level reached the present seaward margins of shore platforms. Shore platform widths were measured using GPS at two sites in Waitemata Group rocks: The North Shore of Auckland; and the southern side of the Tawharanui Peninsula, North Auckland. The long-term cliff recession rates estimated from shore platform widths (1.4 ± 0.1 to 14.3 ± 0.1 mm y-1) are consistent with the lower end of the average range of cliff top and face recession rates published for Waitemata Group rocks using different methods (11-75 mm y-1), and in agreement with cliff base recession estimates (∼3.5 mm y-1). Shore platform widths were qualitatively related to the rock mass characteristics of the associated cliffs, and therefore platform widths could provide a method of identifying regions of potential hazard. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.




de Lange, W. P., & Moon, V. G. (2005). Estimating long-term cliff recession rates from shore platform widths. Engineering Geology, 80(3–4), 292–301.

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