Beach budget analysis and shingle transport dynamics in West Dorset

  • Malcolm Bray

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Comprehensive sediment budgets are compiled for a series of pocket shingle beaches in West Dorset backed by massive soft cliffs that degrade in a rapid and complex manner. Studies involve the identification and quantification of sediment (primarily shingle) inputs, transfers, storage and outputs within terrestrial and marine subsystem components. Results are unified within budget and flow models and applied to tackle questions of coastal evolution and management. Research involved mapping and sampling of the ground forming materials in terms of their beach forming potential. Cliff landsliding and recession are analysed using comparisons of historical maps, aerial photos and documentary evidence. A method of quantifying the release, throughput and supply to the beaches of various sediment grades from the eroding cliffs is presented. The volumes and types of sediment at the beach and in the inshore zone are investigated by various profile, intertidal, and offshore surveys. Detailed sampling and sediment analysis of the beaches is undertaken to elucidate beach drift and for attrition assessments through comparisons with cliff inputs. Shingle tracing experiments using aluminium tracers are conducted to study transport and sorting at two contrasting sites over a full spectrum of wave energy conditions. Validated littoral drift volumes and original wave power relationships are developed. Information is compiled to produce budget models for the main beaches. Complex long established links are demonstrated between eroding cliff sources and the shingle beaches that they supply. Chesil Beach is identified as the ultimate shingle sink suggesting that it is not entirely a product of the Holocene transgression as often envisioned, but a component of a Lyme Bay process system and open periodically to inputs of shingle from the west. Adverse impacts arising from various human interventions are highlighted using the models.
    Date of AwardJun 1996
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The London School of Economics and Political Science
    SupervisorD. K. C. Jones (Supervisor)

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