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What controls the geometry of rocky coasts at the local scale?

Swirad, Z.M.; Rosser, N.J.; Brain, M.J.; Vann Jones, E.C.


Z.M. Swirad

E.C. Vann Jones


Zuzanna Swirad

Zuzanna Swirad


There is a need to understand the controls on rocky coastal form in order to predict the likely response to climate changes and sea-level rise. Spatial variations in coastal geometry result from inheritance and contemporary processes, notably erosive wave intensity and rock resistance. We studied a 4.2 km long section of coastline (Staithes, North Yorkshire, UK) using LiDAR point cloud data and ortho-photographs. We represented the coast as a series of densely-spaced (25 m) and resampled (0.2 m) 2D cross-sections. GIS-based statistical analysis allowed us to identify relationships between coastal morphology, geology (lithology and rock structure) and wave intensity. We found the following statistically-significant relationships: 1) more intensive waves and weaker rocks are associated with steeper shore platforms, 2) higher platforms and cliff toes are associated with weaker and more variable rocks, and 3) surface roughness increases with greater wave intensity, decreased density of discontinuities and decreased variability of intact rock hardness. However, these relationships are weak, which suggests the potential role of coastal inheritance and/or the need to better represent rock resistance in coastal models.


Swirad, Z., Rosser, N., Brain, M., & Vann Jones, E. (2016). What controls the geometry of rocky coasts at the local scale?. Journal of coastal research, 75(sp1), 612-616.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 15, 2016
Online Publication Date Mar 3, 2016
Publication Date 2016-03
Deposit Date Mar 21, 2016
Journal Journal of Coastal Research
Print ISSN 0749-0208
Electronic ISSN 1551-5036
Publisher Coastal Education and Research Foundation
Volume 75
Issue sp1
Pages 612-616