A LANDSLIP created “dramatic scenes” at Lulworth Cove, following weeks of unprecedented rainfall at the Dorset beauty spot.
No one was injured in the landslide but sightseers have been warned to stay away from cliff edges and scree piles the slip has created.
Lulworth Cove has taken a hammering during the recent wild weather – the Beach Cafe sustained so much storm damage, officials declared it structurally unsafe and had it demolished.
A Lulworth Estate spokesman explained: “After a winter of heavy rains, high winds and huge seas, the coast on the estate has been subject to ongoing erosion.
“Since the end of October, the south coast has endured over 25 low pressure systems sweeping in off the Atlantic.
“Unprecedented amounts of rain have fallen leaving the cliffs in a dynamic state.”
Since January the area has endured three notable storms of which coincided with high springtides and strong onshore winds, said the Lulworth Estate spokesman.
“This combination drove the sea well beyond its normal tidal range causing sudden erosion on the area's softer rocks, creating the scenes we see today,” he added.
“The most recent landslide started around midday on Wednesday 19th February, falling on to the beach in some fairly dramatic scenes.
“The rangers were alerted to the events by tourists coming in to the visitor centre, showing videos of the landslide on their mobile phones.
“The landslip was minor and there were no reports of anyone hurt, but please heed the coastguards’ advice and stay well away from the cliff edges and bases, and stay off the scree piles they create.”
There could be more landslips in the coming days and weeks, acording an expert geologist.
Doctor Mark Cowley, a chartered engineering geologist andleading landslide expert, said: “The land slip is likely to be as a result of the recent wet weather.”
He said the rainwater would have percolated into the sands that appeared to make up the slope, and as it did so the overall strength of the soil that made up the slope has been reduced.
“There is always likely to be some water in the slope but as the extra water flows into it after heavy rain, it cannot drain away very quickly and the soils become what we call fully saturated,” he said.
“In effect the groundwater table rises up within the slope and the ability of the slope to remain stable at its current angle is diminished.”
Dr Cowley added: “There are likely to be more slips in saturated slopes in the coming days and weeks as the groundwater levels rise after a very wet winter. People need to be vigilant.
• Crisis fund tops £4,400
THE Storm Aid fund being backed by the Dorset Echo has now topped £4,400.
The Echo is working with the Rotary Clubs of Portland, Weymouth, Weymouth Harbourside, Melcombe Regis, Dorchester, Dorchester Casterbridge, Lyme Regis, Bridport and Brit Valley.
You can donate through Just Giving by texting 70070 and then in the message box type SLFR12 and the amount to donate (for example £10).
Cheques should be made payable to Rotary International, District 1200 Charity Account and sent to Flood Appeal, Dorset Echo, Fleet House, Hampshire Road, Weymouth DT4 9XD.
Cheques and cash can also be dropped off at the Echo offices on the Granby Industrial Estate in Weymouth, Antelope Walk in Dorchester or the Bridport News office in East Street, Bridport.
People in need should contact their local Rotary Club or telephone Peter Noble on 01305 264070 or 07973322937.
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