BGS Research — hazard and resilience modelling

The mainland of Great Britain is surrounded by over 11 000 miles of coastline. It is a very diverse coast in terms of both geology and geomorphology, ranging from the high chalk cliffs of Sussex to the flat expanses of The Wash and Morecambe Bay.

Beach with pebbles and chalk. Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay.
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Beach with pebbles and chalk. Image © Tim Hill from Pixabay.

Our fragile coastline

The coast has been shaped by the continual forces of erosion from the wind, waves and tide, and the characteristics and composition of the coastline will dictate its degree of vulnerability. This was starkly demonstrated by the winter storms of 2013–14, which resulted in widespread damage to infrastructure, such as the mainline railway at Dawlish in Devon and undermining of properties along the Norfolk coast at Hemsby.

With climate change forecasts of an increase in the frequency and intensity of winter storms, the BGS is developing its GeoCoast data product, drawing on existing BGS datasets and expertise and working in collaboration with other organisations to help manage these changes in the future.

Jurassic coast, Dorset. Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay.
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Jurassic coast, Dorset. Image © Roman Grac from Pixabay.


GeoCoast will offer anyone with assets or an interest in the coastline around Great Britain access to easy-to-use datasets linked to geohazard data. This will allow users to interpret potential interdependencies in terms of erosion, flooding, habitat and other vulnerabilities. GeoCoast represents the natural geological coastline as if no coastal defences or made ground are present. This will be of particular value in areas where coastal defences are no longer maintained.


If you want to discover more then please contact Katy Lee.

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Little plant in dried cracked mud against a background of city skyline. Photo credit amphotora.

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The hazard and resilience modelling team aims to develop new and innovative data products that deliver geoscientific information to a range of users in an accessible form.

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