BU’s Andy Ford explains Lulworth landslide on BBC national news

Andy Ford, Lecturer in Geoinformatics at BU, was on the national BBC News at 6pm talking about landslides near Lulworth Cove in Dorset.

A large section of the coastline had collapsed, leaving the beach below covered in thousands of tons of rock, and more than 30 landslips have occurred across the South Coast over the past few weeks.

Andy took to a boat with reporter Jon Kay to explain why the landslides had occurred.

“We’ve had an awful lot of excessive rain over the last year and this spring as well, and what we are looking at here is a very tall chalk cliff,” he said.

“It is very porous and a lot of rainwater will permeate into that rock and will make it a lot heavier than it is normally.

“The water will also get into the little joints and the cracks in the rock, and will promote large, catastrophic events such as this, which are very, very dramatic.”

He said that the coastline had been actively eroding for the last 10,000 years since sea levels rose, but that the levels of erosion varied from day to day.

“Some days you get very little erosion and some days you get very dramatic events like this,” he said, adding that the landslide was the largest he’d seen on the Jurassic Coast.

He said that the landslides can also happen without warning.

“This can happen very suddenly, without much warning at all – particularly in these kind of chalk cliffs,” he said.

“It’s very, very difficult to predict and the coastal path does tend to run very close to the cliff line, so it can be very dangerous.”

Watch Andy’s interview in full