Coastal Geomorphology of Great Britain
GCR Volume No. 28
May, V.J. and Hansom, J.D.
Out of print
This volume is the first to highlight both the conservation value of the coastal geomorphology sites of Great Britain and the important role these sites play in the development of the science of geomorphology.


The coastline of Great Britain is not only extremely varied and dynamic, it is also a great national treasure, valued for its natural heritage and scenic beauty. This GCR volume describes one aspect of the coast – its landforms and geomorphology – and aims to place the coastal features of Great Britain into a wider context by detailing the factors that have shaped our coasts and determined their form. Many factors interplay to create the changing face of the coast that we see today: geology, glaciation, sea-level change, sediment supply, wind, wave, tide, and, increasingly, human activities.
One of the hallmarks of the coastline of Great Britain is its state of continual change. Such geomorphological change may be slow and gradual, such as that which occurs where the geological inheritance has produced a resistant rocky coast. However, coastal change may also be extremely rapid, such as the almost instantaneous erosional impact of storm waves on a sand beach. In the face of such dynamism it is paradoxical that many elements of the coastal landscape appear to be more enduring: sea stacks are ephemeral and young landforms, but the host cliff from which they have emerged is often much older.
Nearly a hundred of the most scientifically important sites have been selected for the GCR to represent the geomorphology of the coast of Great Britain. There are classic 'textbook' examples of typical coastal geomorphological features cited the world over, such as Scolt Head Island, Lulworth Cove, Chesil Beach and St Ninian's Tombolo, and yet others such as the machair of the west coast of Scotland that are unique to the British Isles. Many of the sites have earned international renown both scientifically and aesthetically. Information from such sites contributes greatly to an understanding of the impact both of natural climate change and of coastal management by human beings.
The chapters are arranged thematically to highlight similarities and differences of related systems including hard-rock and soft-rock cliff coasts, gravel and sandy beaches, sand dunes, machair and saltmarshes. Each chapter includes contextual descriptions of the landforms and interpretation of the dynamics of the systems operating within the sites, and the volume is characterized by many illustrations and an extensive bibliography and glossary.


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754 pages, illustrations, A4 hardback
ISBN 1 86107 484 0
Please cite as: May, V.J. and Hansom, J.D. (2003) Coastal Geomorphology of Great Britain, Geological Conservation Review Series, No. 28, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, 754 pp.