What is it about?

We know less about erosion of rocky coasts than soft coasts because the rates of retreat are generally slower. In this study led by Dr Zhongwei Zhao, we were able to work out the retreat distances of lava deltas of known age. Surprisingly, retreat rates do not appear to vary with wave power in the Azores (attached graph). With wave environment not explaining these data, we suggest that instead the resistance to erosion is the cause. Erosional resistance likely varies greatly between lavas, e.g., due to varied joint density between a’a and pahoehoe lavas. Hence, choose your clifftop properties with care!

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Why is it important?

Such highly varied erosion rates and lack of correlation with wave properties present a challenge for predicting erosion for coastal management purposes.

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This page is a summary of: Coastal erosion rates of lava deltas around oceanic islands, Geomorphology, December 2020, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2020.107410.
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