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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2018-12
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Mar 2018

Research article | 01 Mar 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf) and is expected to appear here in due course.

How to explain variations in sea cliff erosion rates? Insights from a literature synthesis

Mélody Prémaillon1, Vincent Regard1, Thomas J. B. Dewez2, and Yves Auda1 Mélody Prémaillon et al.
  • 1GET, Université de Toulouse, UPS (OMP), CNRS, IRD, 14 avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
  • 2BRGM, F-45060 Orléans, France

Abstract. Rocky coast erosion (i.e. cliff retreat) is caused by a complex interaction of various forcings that could be marine, subaerial or due to rock mass property. It turns into variable erosion rates (over 4 orders of magnitude at least, from 1mmyr−1 to 10mmyr−1). While numerous local studies exist and explain erosion processes on specific sites, there is a lack at global scale. In order 5 to quantify and rank the various parameters influencing erosion rates, we compiled existing local studies in a global database called GlobR2C2 (for Global Recession Rates of Coastal Cliffs). This database records erosion rates, cliff setting and measurement specifications; it is filled from peer reviewed articles and national databases. In order to be homogeneous, marine and climatic forcings were recorded from global models and reanalysis. Up to now, GlobR2C2 contains 58 publications which represents 1530 cliffs studied and more than 1680 erosion rate estimates. A statistical analysis was conducted on this 10 database to explore links between erosion rate and forcings at global scale. Rock resistance, inferred through Hoek and Brown (1997) criterion, is the strongest signal explaining variation in erosion rate. Median erosion rates are of 2.9cmyr−1 for hard rocks, 10cmyr−1 for medium rocks and 23cmyr−1 for weak rocks. Concerning climate, only the number of frost days (number of day per year below 0°C) for weak rocks shows a significant, positive, trend with erosion rate. Every other relations with both climatic and marine forcings are very spread and non-significant.

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Mélody Prémaillon et al.
Mélody Prémaillon et al.
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Latest update: 21 Jul 2018
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Short summary
Coastal erosion is of major concern for society, our study focus on rocky coast whose evolution remains poorly understood. We use the increasing number of erosion-related data and compiled it for better understanding how and how much rocky coasts erode. We found that rock resistance explain in first order erosion rates whereas influence of climate and sea is secondary. Weak rock coasts loose in median 23 meters per century, about ten times more than hard rock coasts.
Coastal erosion is of major concern for society, our study focus on rocky coast whose evolution...
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