Processes on Cliffs

  • Eric BirdEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Earth Sciences book series (BRIEFSEARTH)


The main cause of cliff recession is usually wave erosion, but other processes are at work. Undercutting of the base of a cliff by wave scour results in the collapse of rock from the cliff, but instability is also influenced by subaerial weathering, notably the effects of wind, rain and sea spray, seepage of groundwater, recurrent wetting and drying, freezing and thawing, expansion and contraction of the rock surface, the dissolving of soluble rock, and the effects of flora and fauna. Some processes result in the hardening (induration) of rock outcrops in cliffs. Human impacts include coastal mining and quarrying, the addition of buildings, roads and other structures, the dumping of waste and disturbance by traffic, earthworks and explosives.


Rock Outcrop Groundwater Seepage Calcareous Sand Cliff Face Cliff Erosion 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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