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Modelling failure mechanisms of soft cliff profiles

Newson, T. and Sentenac, P. and Dong, P. (2006) Modelling failure mechanisms of soft cliff profiles. In: International Conference on Protection and Restoration of the Environment VIII, 2006-07-03 - 2006-07-07.

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Abstract

A large proportion of the 11,000 km coastline of the United Kingdom is backed by soft cliffs. These cliffs are subject to frequent slumping and landslip events, particularly where sea and ground water percolates into the soil and rock. Many of these cliffs are formed from glaciogenic sediments, which experience severe erosion and rapid recession with long-term horizontal recession rates typically up to 2-3 m/year. A series of scaled physical model tests have been conducted using a large centrifuge facility with two-dimensional cliff models. These were tested in a wave flume container located on the centrifuge. Wave loading was created using a quasi-flap paddle system that was located at the opposite end of the centrifuge box. A number of tests were conducted using different cliff materials (i.e. combinations of sand and Portland cement). A parametric study was carried out to assess the influence of variations in cliff geometry and height, soil properties, wave amplitude and period. From these tests, it has been found that generally, failures occurred by progressive undercutting of the cliff toe, followed by global failure of the cliff mass.