2012 Landslips: Isle of Wight

Freshwater - Chale coast - Isle of Wight

%IoW coast photo%

The Isle of Wight is being battered by the sea from all sides but especially on the south-west coast where the Atlantic gales and Channel currents coupled with the softer rock formations give way to a succession of landslips. These are primarily slow slumping events where the softer rocks above the underlying clay get saturated (and therefore heavier). The water lubricates the lower clay which then gives way and the slump occurs often in a series of stages over time.

The coast is a blaze of colour, orange and yellows from the exposed earth, a sure sign that the land is mobile. It is possible to witness the landslip events at close hand since the Isle of Wight coastal path from Chale to/from Freshwater hugs the cliff top. Having walked this twice over the last 12 months the change over that time is visible - largely due to the phenomenal amount of rain that fell from April - December 2012. Currently [May 2013] some footpath diversions are in place due to the erosion that has occurred. A bench at Atherfield Point on which I had lunch in July 2012 was then several metres from the cliff edge, on the second visit in May 2012 one of the supporting stumps was literally on the edge of the cliff - a drop of 20m..

%IoW hooke landslip%

Near Fort Albert on the north west coast, near Yarmouth, there is a "Hooke Trail" notice [Robert Hooke: a 17thC scientist who analysed local rock bedding to conclude that the land had moved significantly relative to the sea over time]. The notice of his findings and the surrounding land and path has also slipped here over the past 12 months (see above photo) - in this case the land is moving down to the sea!

The Gallery illustrates several instances of land slipping here.

KM 04 Dec 2016


Isle of Wight: Freshwater to Chale


Start: 05 July 2012
End: 24 April 2013


British Geological Survey:: ancient landslips in the southern Isle of Wight
Robert Hooke:: Wikipedia page