Natural Hazards

, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 741–755 | Cite as

Wave hazards on microtidal shore platforms: testing the relationship between morphology and exposure

  • David M. KennedyEmail author
  • Daniel Ierodiaconou
  • Adam Weir
  • Barbara Brighton
Original Paper


Open-ocean rocky coasts are dangerous environments when there is a coincidence of recreational activities occurring in areas of high wave energy. Management of drowning fatalities and near-drowning incidents on these landforms is difficult as traditional approaches to beach safety cannot be easily transferred to rocky shores. In this study, we take a morphological approach to quantifying the relative danger of shore platforms in microtidal regions. Platform elevation and nearshore water depth are key variables in determining the likelihood of wave overtopping of the platform edge. The relationship between these variables is tested along a 70-km-long section of the Otway Ranges coast in Victoria, Australia. It is found that exposure is highly variable along short (100 m scale) sections of shore platforms. This variability is driven by the complexity of the nearshore morphology which can have metre-scale relief. As exposed platforms may occur in areas of low wave energy, the morphological exposure index is combined with nearshore wave energy to produce a risk rating. Risk, like exposure, was found to be highly spatially variable. The relationship between elevation and water depth has the potential to provide managers with a tool for assessing safety on rocky shores.


Shore platform Hazard Waves Rock fishing Water safety Rock coast Drowning 



This project was funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Program (LP130100204). We thank the Department of Environment and Primary Industries coordinated imagery programme for access to the georegistered aerial photography and the Future Coasts Program for access to the LiDAR data. Comments on a draft of the manuscript by Colin Woodroffe and Gigi Woods were greatly appreciated as were reviews by Alan Trenhaile and an anonymous expert.

Supplementary material

11069_2016_2714_MOESM1_ESM.docx (11 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 12 kb)
11069_2016_2714_MOESM2_ESM.kml (365 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (KML 366 kb)
11069_2016_2714_MOESM3_ESM.kmz (19 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (KMZ 20 kb)


  1. Allsop W, Bruce T, Pearson J, Besley P (2005) Wave overtopping at vertical and steep seawalls. Marit Eng 158:103–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beetham EP, Kench PS (2011) Field observations of infragravity waves and their behaviour on rock shore platforms. Earth Surf Proc Land 36:1872–1888CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. BoM (2015) Climate and past weather. Australian Government.
  4. Brander RW (2015) Rip currents. In: Ellis JT, Sherman DJ (eds) Coastal and marine hazards, risks and disasters. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 335–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Crozier MJ, Glade T (2004) Landslide hazard and risk: issues, concepts and approach. In: Glade T, Anderson M, Crozier MJ (eds) Landslide hazard and risk. Wiley, Hoboken, pp 1–40Google Scholar
  6. DHI (2012) Mike 21 spectral wave module, scientific documentation. Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI)Google Scholar
  7. Douglas JG, Ferguson JA (eds) (1976) Geology of Victoria, vol special publication #5. Geological Society of Australia, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  8. Duddy IR (2003) Mesozoic. In: Birch WD (ed) Geology of Victoria, vol Geological Society of Australia special publication 23. Geological Society of Australia (Victoria Division), Sydney, pp 239–288Google Scholar
  9. Gallien TW, Sanders BF, Flick RE (2014) Urban coastal flood prediction: integrating wave overtopping, flood defenses and drainage. Coast Eng 91:18–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gill ED (1973) Rate and mode of retrogradation on rocky coasts in Victoria, and their relationship to sea level changes. Boreas 2:143–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gotoh H, Ikari H, Memita T, Sakai T (2005) Lagrangian particle method for simulation of wave overtopping on a vertical seawall. Coast Eng J 47:157–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hughes MG, Heap AD (2010) National-scale wave energy resource assessment for Australia. Renew Energy 35:1783–1791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jutson JT (1949) The shore platforms of Lorne, Victoria. Proc R Soc Vic 61:43–59Google Scholar
  14. Jutson JT (1953) The shore platforms of Lorne, Victoria, and the processes of erosion operating thereon. Proc R Soc Vic 65:125–134Google Scholar
  15. Kamstra P (2015) Relational risk on microtidal shore platforms and implications for public safety on rocky coasts. thesis, The University of MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  16. Kennedy DM (2016) The subtidal morphology of microtidal shore platforms and its implication for wave dynamics on rocky coasts. Geomorphology 268:146–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kennedy DM, Milkins J (2015) The formation of beaches on shore platforms in microtidal environments. Earth Surf Process Land 30:34–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kennedy DM, Paulik R, Dickson ME (2011) Subaerial weathering versus wave processes in shore platform development: reappraising the Old Hat Island evidence. Earth Surf Process Land 36:686–694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kennedy DM, Brighton B, Weir A, Sherker S, Woodroffe CD (2012) Towards a typology of rocky coasts in the context of risk assessment. In: Paper presented at the 21st NSW coastal conference, KiamaGoogle Scholar
  20. Kennedy DM, Sherker S, Brighton B, Weir A, Woodroffe CD (2013) Rocky coast hazards and public safety: moving beyond the beach in coastal risk management. Ocean Coast Manag 82:85–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kriebel D et al (2001) The precautionary principle in environmental science. Environ Health Perspect 109:871–876CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Losada IJ, Lara JL, Guanche R, Gonzalez-Ondina JM (2008) Numerical analysis of wave overtopping of rubble mound breakwaters. Coast Eng 55:47–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Moran K (2014) Getting out of the water: how hard can that be? Int J Aquat Res Educ 8:321–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ogawa H, Dickson ME, Kench PS (2015) Hydrodynamic constraints and storm wave characteristics on a sub-horizontal shore platform. Earth Surf Process Land 40:65–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. PoM (2013) Victorian tide tables, 88th edn. Port of Melbourne Corporation, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  26. Quadros N, Rigby J (2010) Construction of a high accuracy seamless, state-wide coastal DEM. FIG Coastal Zone Special Publication, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  27. Rattray A, Ierodiaconou D, Womersley T (2015) Wave exposure as a predictor of benthic habitat distribution on high energy temperate reefs. Front Mar Sci. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00008 Google Scholar
  28. Semeniuk V, Johnson DP (1985) Modern and Pleistocene rocky shore sequences along carbonate coastlines, southwestern Australia. Sediment Geol 44:225–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Short A (1999) Beach hazards and safety. In: Short A (ed) Handbook of beach and shoreface morphodynamics. Wiley, New York, pp 293–304Google Scholar
  30. Short A, Hogan CL (1994) Rip currents and beach hazards: their impact on public safety and implications for coastal management. J Coast Res SI12:197–209Google Scholar
  31. Short A, Williamson B, Hogan CL (1993) The Australian beach safety and management programme—surf life saving Australia’s approach to beach safety and coastal planning. In: 11th Australasian conference on coastal and ocean engineering, Institution of Engineers, Barton, ACT, pp 113–118Google Scholar
  32. SLSA (2014a) Annual report 2013/14. Surf Life Saving Australia, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  33. SLSA (2014b) National coastal safety report 2014. Surf Life Saving Australia, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  34. Stephenson WJ, Dickson ME, Trenhaile AS (2013) 10.11 rock coasts. In: John FS (ed) Treatise on geomorphology. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 289–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sunamura T (1992) Geomorphology of rocky coasts. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  36. Trenhaile AS (1987) The geomorphology of rock coasts. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  37. WaterTech (2004) Wave and tidal power assessment for the Victorian coastline. WaterTech, Notting HillGoogle Scholar
  38. Whiteway T (2009) Australian bathymetry and topography grid, June 2009. Scale 1:5000000. Geoscience Australia, CanberraGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Kennedy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Ierodiaconou
    • 2
  • Adam Weir
    • 3
  • Barbara Brighton
    • 4
  1. 1.School of GeographyThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.School of Life and Environmental SciencesDeakin UniversityWarrnamboolAustralia
  3. 3.Surf Life Saving New South WalesBelroseAustralia
  4. 4.Surf Life Saving AustraliaRoseberyAustralia

Personalised recommendations