Coastal road asset management: Dealing with uncertainty using quantitative erosion monitoring and modelling

Lim, Michael, Hogg, Michelle, Westoby, Matt, Pound, Matthew, Dunlop, Lesley and Woodward, John (2017) Coastal road asset management: Dealing with uncertainty using quantitative erosion monitoring and modelling. In: Coasts, Marine Structures and Breakwaters Conference: Realising the Potential, 5-7 September 2017, Liverpool.

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The A183 is an essential transportation link in the northeast UK that joins coastal areas from South Shields to Sunderland. The route runs through the hinterland of Marsden Bay and concerns have been raised about the proximity of the road to the eroding cliff line. The Shoreline Management Plan (Lane and Guthrie, 2007) sets out the overarching management policy in the area and, based on the analyses of historic map data, uses projected coastal cliff retreat rates of 0.1 – 0.2 m a-1, although more recent investigations have suggested the rates may be nearer 0.04 – 0.1 m a-1. Quantitative data on the true rates and nature of cliff erosion are scarce and asset management decisions typically use the higher rate of 0.2 m a-1 when considering the potential impact on road operations and lifespan in order to account for uncertainty and future sea-level rise; which is additionally used to accelerate the predicted rates of retreat. Consequently, an enhanced high order estimate of cliff erosion rates has restricted the serviceability of the A183 to within 20 – 50 years, and there are three areas (pinch points) of particular concern where the close proximity of the cliff line threatens the safe operation of the road. This approach and the data it uses suggest that significant and potentially costly decisions may soon be required to ensure the viability of this vital transport corridor.

Set against the context of assumed high cliff erosion rates, and further predicted increases to this metric, this work presents the results of a re-evaluation of existing map and aerial imagery data that highlights the typically high uncertainty associated with historic map data. The errors often exceed the changes being detected in rock cliffs, producing contradictory results and variability in processing and interpretation that restricts the reliability of the data used in current policy decisions. Using a significance-based analysis, questions are raised about how appropriate it is to reduce a three-dimensional recession process down to a single linear retreat. To provide a more appropriate and accurate assessment of the erosion occurring here we present the results of a monitoring approach of the Marsden Bay site using three-dimensional survey analyses to improve understanding of cliff failures at the site and ultimately to aid policy decisions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mechanical and Construction Engineering
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2018 11:05
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 08:05

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