East Yorkshire coastal erosion

glossary gallery

[The glossary gallery is a work in progress. It is uploaded in order to share what has been assembled so far and which may be useful.]


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BACKWASH. The return, under gravity, of water to the sea after waves break on a beach. A new wave rolls in at an angle to the beach as water from the previous wave (foreground) drains directly back into the sea [Ulrome: 10 June 2012].

BUTTRESS. A natural cliff feature having a protruding angular aspect that makes it look like a support. May be formed when a slide-smoothed section has slipped [Ringbrough south: 6 May 2013].



 arch at cave entrance
CAVE. Deep cavity. This example has an arch of clay at the entrance [Ringbrough south: 6 May 2013].

 collapsed cavity (1)
COLLAPSED CAVITY (1). The roof has fallen in. On both sides, till has overslumped a unit of coarse sand and gravel that runs across the cavity [Atwick: 26 May 2013].

 collapsed cavity (2)
COLLAPSED CAVITY (2). Groundwater trickling from above may have contributed to the failure [Dimlington: 14 March 2014].

 fall cavity (1)
FALL CAVITY (1). Generally on a bigger scale than a collapsed cavity, with material separating from the back and sides as well as from above. At the lower left of the picture, vertical rilling and a wave-smoothed undercut are apparent [Hilston: 7 May 2013].

 fall cavity (2)
FALL CAVITY (2). Mudballs are forming from the material on the beach [Grimston: 7 May 2013].

 slump cavity (1)
SLUMP CAVITY (1). Often the result of a waterlogged cliff after prolonged rain. Clay turns to mud which oozes to the beach, leaving a cavity or – as here – multiple cavities [Ringbrough south: 6 May 2013].

 slump cavity (2)
SLUMP CAVITY (2). This slump cavity at the upper cliff is dried out [Atwick: 26 May 2013].

 shallow cavity
SHALLOW CAVITY. Cavity of little or moderate depth [Ringbrough south: 6 May 2013].





ERRATIC. Although all material of the cliff is essentially foreigh to the area, having been transported from the north by ice, the term ‘erratic’ is applied to stony content, from pebbles to (especially) boulders [Hollym, north of The Runnell: 20 April 2019].



FINGER (1). A vertical piece mainly separated from the cliff but still connected at its base [Holmpton: 20 April 2013].

 finger (2)
FINGER (2). Here supported on a plinth formed by a marginally more resilient till unit [Hollym: 17 August 2013].







IMBRASION. To the right of a cave, material has been plucked from the cliff face in an example of imbrasion, broader and less hollowed than a shallow cavity [Ringbrough south: 6 May 2013].



 jut (1)
JUT (1). Small seaward projection of the cliff line. The picture shows a ‘V’ jut [Hilston: 6 May 2013].

 jut (2)
JUT (2). The forward part of this jut appears twisted. A small erratic is embedded at the base of the overhang [Grimston: 7 May 2013].

 jut (3)
JUT (3). Rectangular jut, vertically splitting and partially overhanging [Atwick: 26 May 2013].





MILLING. The stones clustered at the foot of the cliff will, when pushed around by waves, grind away at the clay on each high tide that reaches the cliff [Grimston: 7 May 2013].





OVERSLUMP. Withernsea Till (‘chocolate’ coloured), having slid, covers the lower Skipsea Till. This is a commonly seen feature in southern sections of the coast. See till types [Grimston: 7 May 2013].

BLOCKY OVERSLUMP. Again, Withernsea Till slides over Skipsea Till [Dimlington: 3 September 2012].



 platform step
PLATFORM STEP. Formed in the clay platform when the beach level is dropping. In this example, the step has a covering of shingle and stones [Dimlington: 3 April 2013].



RUNNEL. As a sand bar (left) ‘pulls’ seaward from the upper beach (right) a channel, or runnel, is created. For more information, see the sediment segmentation page [Grimston: 7 May 2013].



 sand step
SAND STEP. Similarly to a platform step, a sand step is the result of a reduction in beach level [Dimlington: 3 April 2013].

 seepage line
SEEPAGE LINE. Groundwater emerges from the filled-in bed of an extensive glacial outwash channel at middle cliff. During retreat of the ice, the flow of meltwater would have been landward, away from the camera [Ringbrough south: 6 May 2013].

 multiple separation (1)
SEPARATION (1). A dry spell, especially when accompanied by winds blowing off the sea, may produce a number of parallel cracks along exposed surfaces of the cliff top. Wider ones are likely to represent lateral separation with the potential to become a cliff edge in the near future. The tape measure (at a right angle to the cliff line) is extended to 365 centimetres [Hilston: 7 May 2013].

 multiple separation (2)
SEPARATION (2). Multiple lateral separation is causing the cliff face to topple as ‘slices’ [Cowden: 4 November 2022].

 slide / slump
SLIDES AND SLUMPS. At the upper cliff is an incipient slide – the sections are slipping in more or less one movement. In the lower part, material is slumping and falling. Also in the picture, at the foot of the cliff to the right, is an example of imbrasion. On the beach, a runnel crosses the picture [Grimston: 7 May 2013].

SLIDE. Pastures Lane, once a link between the villages of Tunstall and Hilston, also served fields between it and the sea. Section by section, the old route drops and breaks away [Hilston: 6 May 2013].

SNOUT. Fine example at the foot of a razor spur [Ringbrough south: 6 May 2013].

 razor spur
RAZOR SPUR. Sometimes noted as a saw-tooth spur [Atwick: 26 May 2013].

 strand line
STRAND LINE. Recent tides have not reached the base of the cliff [Hilston: 7 May 2013].

STRINGER. This stringer of chalk, crushed and spread by glacial action, lies below a thin bed of red clay [Atwick: 26 May 2013].

STRINGER. Extensive raft-like chalk stringer [Easington north: 16 June 2023].



 terminal groyne effect
TERMINAL GROYNE EFFECT. Representative example of a crenulate bay created downdrift of sea defences. See page [Mappleton: 4 November 2022].

 toe horn
TOE HORN. A second example can be seen a few metres further along [Atwick: 26 May 2013].

 toe boulder
TOE BOULDER. Mud boulder attached to a cliff toe [6 May 2013].







 water cut )
WATER CUT (1). On reaching the edge of the cliff, an open drain or dyke will normally create a deep indentation such as this [Atwick: 26 May 2013].

 water cut (2)
WATER CUT (2). Between high tides, fresh water from such a cut crosses the beach towards the sea, often becoming part of intertidal beach drainage [Cowden: 4 November 2022]

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Pictures and text by Brian Williams.