Dr Jessica Johnson, UEA
Professor Robert Nicholls, UEA, Tyndall
In the face of climate change, our coasts are becoming increasingly vulnerable due to more extreme weather events as well as sea-level rise. Coastal defences are often unsustainable and will ultimately be removed in places, allowing greater erosion and loss of cliff-top infrastructure. To manage this erosion, further research is needed on how cliff slopes are weakened and the mechanism of failure to identify areas prone to collapse and provide early warning for coastal landslides, including addressing risk to life.
Through collaboration with BGS and their existing Landslide Observatories, this project will introduce new technology to monitor cracking of coastal cliffs to identify areas of weakness, and to investigate the initiation of failure.
This project will address three fundamental questions related to coastal landslides in the UK:
- How does the removal of sea defences affect rock mechanics and platform lowering in the context of landslides?•How do storm conditions and drought pre-condition slopes to fail?
- Can coastal landslides be forecast using geophysical methods?
The student will conduct geophysical fieldwork on coast lines with varying typology to collect data relating to subsurface cracks and platform lowering. Seismic monitoring equipment will capture ground vibrations from cracking. Electric Resistivity Tomography will be periodically carried out to assess the rate of platform lowering in the upper shore face. The student will process the seismic data to identify areas of weakness and analyse the subsurface throughout variable environmental conditions to answer these questions. Ultimately, this project will contribute to the arsenal of monitoring methods at BGS landslide observatories.
The project will be conducted primarily in the UEA School of ENV, where the background and existing knowledge to support this project are excellent.
Training will be given where necessary in geoscientific methods, general computing skills and specific software. The other institution involved in this project is BGS, where Dr Payo Garcia is a leading coastal geomorphologist. The student will spend at least 3 months hosted at BGS.
Applicants must hold, or expect to receive, a first or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant geoscience or physical sciences discipline.