Holbeck Hall landslide, Scarborough

Holbeck Hall location

The Holbeck landslide, south of Scarborough in North Yorkshire, attracted considerable interest when it destroyed the four-star Holbeck Hall Hotel between the night of 3 June and 5 June 1993. A rotational landslide involving about 1 million tonnes of glacial till cut back the 60 m high cliff by 70 m. It flowed across the beach to form a semicircular promontory 200 m wide projecting 135 m outward from the foot of the cliff.

The likely cause of the landslide was a combination of: rainfall of 140 mm in the two months before the slide took place; issues related to the drainage of the slope; pore water pressure build up in the slope and the geology.

The first signs of movement on the cliff were seen six weeks before the main failure, when cracks developed in the tarmac surface of footpaths running across the cliffs. These were filled to stop ingress of water to the cliff, but when the cracks reopened, shortly before the main failure, the council closed the cliff paths below the hotel. At this time a small part of the hotel garden was also observed to have suffered a minor movement.

Holbeck Hall landslide from the air

There was originally 70 m of garden between the hotel and the cliff edge. At 6 am on the 4 June a guest saw that 55 m of the garden had disappeared. The hotel was evacuated and the landslide continued to develop, culminating in the collapse of the east wing of the hotel by the evening of 5 June.

The landslide is a rotational landslide degrading to a mud/debris flow which covered the rocks on the beach (platform).

Geology

The cliff consists of Glacial Till (sandy, silty clay) resting on a low cliff of the Middle Jurassic Scalby Formation. The Scalby Formation comprises Scalby Mudstone and Moor Grit (sandstone).

Photographs

The landslide is National Landslide Database ID 10741/1. Here are a selection of photographs of the landslide:

References

Forster, A. 1993. Scarborough Landslip. Geoscientist Vol. 3. No.5. pp 2-3 and cover photograph.

Forster, A, and Culshaw, M. 2004. Feature: Implications of climate change for hazardous ground conditions in the UK, Geology Today, v.20 issue 2, pp. 61–66

Lee, E M. 1999. Coastal planning and management: the impact of the 1993 Holbeck Hall landslide, Scarborough : East Midlands Geographer Vol 21 pt 2 1998 & v.22 pt1, p78–91

Contact the Landslide Response Team

British Geological Survey
Keyworth
Nottingham
NG12 5GG
E-mail: Landslides team
Telephone: 0115 936 3143
Fax: 0115 936 3276