Gaping 300ft-long crevasse splits Jurassic Coast clifftop in two

Gaping 300ft long crevasse splits Jurassic Coast clifftop in two


Gaping 300ft-long crevasse splits Jurassic Coast clifftop in two amid warnings thousands of tonnes of earth atop the Dorset coastline will give way at any moment

  • Gaping 300ft-long crevasse split a sandstone cliff in two above Seatown beach near West Bay, Dorset
  • Experts say it will collapse imminently, with walkers on the beach below urged to keep away or risk injury
  • The cliff-top beauty spot is part of Britain’s Unesco World Heritage site and is regularly walked by ramblers 

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A huge chunk of Britain’s Jurassic Coast is on the brink of collapse after an enormous crack opened at the top of a 150ft cliff.

The gaping 300ft long crevasse has split the sandstone cliff in two, meaning thousands of tonnes of earth could give way at any moment.

The section of cliff has already dropped 4ft from the mainland next to it and experts say it will collapse imminently, with walkers on the beach below urged to keep away or risk being injured or killed.

The cliff-top beauty spot above Seatown beach, near West Bay, Dorset, forms part of Britain’s Unesco World Heritage Site.

It is walked by tens of thousands of ramblers a year but the unstable cliffs mean that the stretch of coast is notorious for landslips.

The same area saw one of the biggest falls in decades in April when thousands of tonnes of debris fell to the beach below.

The gaping 300ft long crevasse has split the sandstone cliff in two, meaning thousands of tonnes of earth could give way at any moment

The gaping 300ft long crevasse has split the sandstone cliff in two, meaning thousands of tonnes of earth could give way at any moment 

The section of cliff has already dropped 4ft from the mainland next to it and experts say it will collapse imminently, with walkers on the beach below urged to keep away or risk being injured or killed

The section of cliff has already dropped 4ft from the mainland next to it and experts say it will collapse imminently, with walkers on the beach below urged to keep away or risk being injured or killed

The cliff-top beauty spot above Seatown beach, near West Bay, Dorset, forms part of Britain's Unesco World Heritage Site

The cliff-top beauty spot above Seatown beach, near West Bay, Dorset, forms part of Britain’s Unesco World Heritage Site

The same area saw one of the biggest falls in decades in April when thousands of tonnes of debris fell to the beach below

The same area saw one of the biggest falls in decades in April when thousands of tonnes of debris fell to the beach below

And just two weeks ago some 600 tonnes of rock fell from the cliffs at nearby West Bay.

Richard Edmonds, a local geologist, said the fresh crack had left the whole section of cliff dangerously unstable.

He said: ‘It is no doubt a continuation of the big fall we had last April – a great big collapse like that has left a lot of the clifftop unstable. We had another there in July.

‘That has been made worse by the extreme rain we had a few weeks ago which has clearly had an impact. It is surprising just how severe that weather was – normally it would take months for the rainwater to build up to cause landslides.’

Nick Bale, spokesman for the West Bay coastguard, said it was the season for rockfalls. He said: ‘People should stay well away from the cliffs and be mindful of walking on the beach beneath them in case they they fall.

‘The changeable weather, moving from dry to wet and freezing, makes this the season for cliff falls. When it rains, water gets into the fissures of the rock. As it freezes it expands, loosening the material.’

Richard Edmonds, a local geologist, said the fresh crack had left the whole section of cliff dangerously unstable

Richard Edmonds, a local geologist, said the fresh crack had left the whole section of cliff dangerously unstable

Nick Bale, spokesman for the West Bay coastguard, said it was the season for rockfalls. He said: 'People should stay well away from the cliffs and be mindful of walking on the beach beneath them in case they they fall'

Nick Bale, spokesman for the West Bay coastguard, said it was the season for rockfalls. He said: ‘People should stay well away from the cliffs and be mindful of walking on the beach beneath them in case they they fall’

It is walked by tens of thousands of ramblers a year but the unstable cliffs mean that the stretch of coast is notorious for landslips

It is walked by tens of thousands of ramblers a year but the unstable cliffs mean that the stretch of coast is notorious for landslips

Rob Samson, regional manager for the coastguard, added that the stretch of cliff was 'very unstable' and could collapse without warning

Rob Samson, regional manager for the coastguard, added that the stretch of cliff was ‘very unstable’ and could collapse without warning

Rob Samson, regional manager for the coastguard, added that the stretch of cliff was ‘very unstable’ and could collapse without warning.

Russell Guff, part of Dorset Council’s countryside project development team, said they were monitoring the crack closely and were prepared to close the South West Coastal Path, which is just 60ft back from it.

He said: ‘We are working with the National Trust to see if it posses a risk to the coastal path. We had another fall there in recent months and this is a continuation of that.’

Graham Hut, a local photographer, said the section of cliff was ‘hanging on and about to go in the next week or so.’ He said several other cracks had appeared further east and that signs had been erected warning the public of potential rockfalls.



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