Saturday, 11 August 2018

Rockfall kills nine-year-old girl at Staithes in North Yorkshire, England.

An nine-year-old girl has died after being hit on the head by rocks falling from a cliff in the seaside village of Staithes in North Yorkshire, England, on Wednesday 8 August 2018. Harriet Forster was visiting Seaton Garth beach with her family, while on holiday from their home in Oxford when the incident occurred. She sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident, and died at the scene despite being treated promptly by emergency services. The incident comes less than a week after a woman was injured in a similar incident on the North Norfolk coast.

Harriet Forster, 9, killed in a rockfall at Seaton Garth in North Yorkshire on Wednesday 8 August 2018. North Yorkshire Police/AP.

The UK has seen a number of rockfalls and landslips around its coast this summer, which have been linked to the exceptionally warm and dry weather. This is unusual, as most landslips are linked to wet weather, when sediments become water logged and lose their cohesion, but exceptionally dry weather can cause the same problem, with exposed soft sediments that usually contain some water drying out and crumbling, undermining anything above, in this case hard limestone rocks.

Sign warning about the dangers of falling rocks at Seaton Garth. PA.

The cliffs around Staithes are comprised of are made of layers of sandstone and limestone. This can be an extremely dangerous as the sandstone layers close to the cliff-face, leaving the limestone layers are more prone to erosion, which leaved the limestone layers unsupported and prone to sudden collapses. The area is noted for its numerous Jurassic fossils, predominantly Ammonites, which are exposed by these rockfalls, attracting visitors to the area.

Jurassic strata exposed on cliffs at Staithes, North Yorkshire. UK Fossil Collecting.

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