The first study to analyze California’s coastal cliff retreat statewide using high-resolution data has found that cliffs receded faster in the north than elsewhere in the state during the study period.
But the study, which covered 866 kilometers (538 miles) of cliffs, detected erosional hotspots in central and Southern California as well.
“It’s probably the largest high-resolution cliff erosion study ever conducted, and provides the first detailed erosion rates for several parts of the state,” said coastal geomorphologist Adam Young of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
Cliffs account for most of California’s 1,646 kilometers (1,023 miles) of coastline.
Landslides and collapses have caused injuries and multiple deaths in recent decades. Coastal infrastructure potentially at risk includes highways, public coastal access points, homes, military bases, wastewater treatment plants, power plants, and railways.
The State of California recently allocated $300 million toward moving 1.7 miles of tracks away from an eroding bluff in Del Mar.