A huge section of a cliff on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset has collapsed on to a beach below and into the sea in the biggest UK rockfall in 60 years.
The rockfall happened just west of the south coast seaside town of Weymouth and Dorset council said more cliff was expected to be lost, with people being urged to stay away from the area. Parts of the coastal path were cordoned off.
A spokesman for the council said: “Further movement is expected with fresh cracks, affecting the fence line but not the coast path.
“We will monitor over the next few weeks to ensure that any further movement does not affect access.
“Now the ground is drying out, there is the possibility of more slips and falls and they can happen very quickly. For your safety keep clear of tops and bases of cliffs when out and about.”
About 300 metres of the cliff was affected when 4,000 tonnes came away in massive chunks, some the size of cars, falling towards the beach below. The council tweeted to say: “The path has been cordoned off. The cliff is still very unstable and more is expected to be lost. Please take notice of safety signs.”
On Tuesday, Dorset council reported that a “substantial” rockfall took place between Seatown and Eype beach, which was soon followed by another cliff collapsing just east of Seatown.
Student geologist Jodie Brewin told the BBC: “Basically it’s to do with re-weathering and erosion that basically falls hand-in-hand and shapes this coastline.”
Southern England has seen a lot of rock and cliff falls, and in February, the chalk cliffs that border much of Kent and Sussex experienced a rise in falls. There were warnings the coast could dramatically change by the summer.
Dorset council said the Jurassic Coast was an “amazing place to visit but it is an ever-changing landscape”.
“Wind, waves and weather all act on the cliffs, which can fall and slip without warning. So stay safe – keep away from the tops or bases of the cliffs and stay off slip material on the beach,” it tweeted.
There was another large rockfall at Eype in November, when a section of cliff on a coastal path collapsed.
In February, a witness recalled hearing a “loud crack” after a huge section of the white cliffs of Dover fell to the sea. David Waterfield was out with his dog when he heard the noise and then saw “a large amount of cliff” breaking off into the water.