21 February 2012

A round-up of recent UK landslide events of interest

Posted by Dave Petley

Here is one of my occasional round-up of landslide events that have caught my eye, this time with a UK focus:

1. On-going problems on the A980 in Scotland

Back in December the A980  Lochcarron to Plockton road was closed at the Strome Ferry due to rockfalls from a steep section of cliff.  This has had major impacts in terms of diversions, resulting in the Highland Council laying on a car ferry service to provide a detour.  There have been multiple unsuccessful attempts to re-open the road, which remains closed until at least next Monday.

2. A near-miss in Dorset

Meanwhile, a couple had a near-miss from a coastal rockfall near to Burton Bradstock in Dorset:

” The couple were enjoying a gentle stroll along the beach when giant boulders – some the size of cars – began tumbling down the 45 m cliff.It was only because Ms Pollard stopped to pick up a shell on the beach at Burton Bradstock, Dorset, that the couple didn’t walk under the mass of falling rocks.  The 45-year-old, from West Horrington, Somerset, said: ‘All of a sudden these big boulders rolled down the cliff and out along the beach towards the sea.  ‘It all took about five seconds or so to come down. It made the most horrendous crash, I was terrified.”

Looking at the image of the landslide provided in the paper, this was no trivial event:




It is also interesting to note the steep overhang that has been left – there is probably a further rockfall to come at this location.

3. Plans for upgrades to the A83 Rest and Be Thankful

Back to Scotland, where the A83 road and the beautifully named Rest and be Thankful has been the site of repeated landslide problems in recent years, most recently in December 2011:



The Scottish Government has announced a £1 million scheme to upgrade a forest road that will allow traffic to still pass, even when the road is closed.  At the same time £100,000 is being spent exploring engineering solutions to the problem, focusing either on the construction of a landslide shelter over the road , elevating the road onto a viaduct to cross the landslide zone., or finding a new alignment.  Sensibly, addressing the cause of the landslides by better managing the hillslope vegetation is also being considered.