Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - the year of the disaster

An international insurance company, Munich Re, has said that 2008 has been one of the worst years for natural disasters. A string of floods, tsunami, earthquakes and hurricanes has led to £137bn in financial losses and more than 220,000 deaths. It is thought that climate change has led to an exacerbation of certain hazards, particularly flooding and weather-related events such as hurricanes. The worst single events of the year have been the Chinese earthquake that left 70,000 dead and the Burmese cyclone Nargis that killed 130,000.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Jurassic Coast Landslide

On 6th May 2008, 95m high cliffs along a 400m wide section of World Heritage Coast between Lyme Regis and Charmouth collapsed. This stretch of coast is no stranger to landsliding and comprises a similar range of weak shales and marls as much of the Isle of Wight, also subject to frequent landslide activity. Long term inundation from prolonged summer and winter rainfall produces high pore water pressures that contribute to instability and such events can be expected to become more frequent with more the extreme weather associated with climate change. Video footage of the slide can be seen at the BBC web site and a Google Earth image of the coast affected is available at

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Snakes Pass Landslide

The A57 Snakes Pass road (the main link between Manchester and Sheffield) has been closed for two weeks due to a landslide (image from Prof. Brian Whalley). The landslide occurred following heavy rain, a sequence of events not unusual in this locality (e.g. The steep hillslopes in this region of the 'Dark Peak' are particularly vulnerable to mass movement being underlain by thin sandstones interbedded with weak, easily weathered shales. Other notable landslides in the immediate vicinity include Alport Castles (see and Mam Tor (see - (image from DTN).

Monday, January 07, 2008

Flooding in Australia

For news of recent inland and coastal flooding in eastern Australia click on the link in the title above. For some video aerial footage visit Flash flooding has occurred in some parts. Ironically, the spate of heavy rainfall leading to this flooding follows months of severe drought.