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A 300-foot gulf divides the top of the Jurassic Coast in two


A 300-foot gulf splits the slope of the Jurassic coast in two amid warnings that thousands of tons of land above the Dorset coast will give way at any moment.

  • A 300-foot-long gap has cut a sandstone cliff in two over Seatown Beach near West Bay, Dorset.
  • Experts say it will collapse imminently, with pedestrians on the beach below urged to stay away or risk injury
  • The cliff-top beauty spot is part of Britain’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is regularly walked by climbers

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Much of Britain’s Jurassic coast is on the verge of collapse after a massive crack has opened up on top of a 150-foot cliff.

The 300-foot large crack split the sandstone cliff in two, meaning that thousands of tons of land could vanish at any moment.

The cliff section has already fallen 4 feet from the adjacent mainland and experts say it will soon collapse, with pedestrians on the beach below urged to stay away or risk being injured or killed.

The cliff-top camel spot above Seatown Beach, near West Bay, Dorset, forms part of Britain’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tens of thousands of surfers walk it every year, but the unstable slopes mean that the stretch of coast is notorious for landslides.

The area itself experienced its biggest drop in decades in April when thousands of tons of debris fell ashore below.

The massive 300-foot crack split the sandstone cliff in two, meaning that thousands of tons of land could vanish at any moment.

The cliff section has already fallen 4 feet from its adjacent mainland and experts say it will soon collapse, with pedestrians on the beach below urged to stay away or risk being injured or killed.

The cliff section has already fallen 4 feet from its adjacent mainland and experts say it will soon collapse, with pedestrians on the beach below urged to stay away or risk being injured or killed.

Cliff-top camel spot above Seatown Beach, near West Bay, Dorset, forms part of Britain's UNESCO World Heritage Site

Cliff-top camel spot above Seatown Beach, near West Bay, Dorset, forms part of Britain’s UNESCO World Heritage Site

The area itself experienced its largest drop in decades in April when thousands of tons of debris fell ashore below

The area itself experienced its largest drop in decades in April when thousands of tons of debris fell ashore below

And just two weeks ago, about 600 tons of rock fell from cliffs in the nearby West Bay.

Richard Edmonds, a local geologist, said the new rift left the entire section of the shelf dangerously unstable.

He said: “It is undoubtedly a continuation of the big fall we had last April – a big crash like this left a lot of the slope top unstable. We had another there in July.

It was made worse by the torrential rains we witnessed a few weeks ago which had an obvious effect. It’s amazing how harsh this weather can be – it usually takes months for rainwater to build up to cause landslides.

It’s rockfall season, said Nick Bell, a spokesman for the West Bay Coast Guard. He said: People should stay away from the cliff, and take care to walk on the beaches below it in case they fall.

“Changing weather, which goes from dry to wet and freezing, makes this cliff fall season. When it rains, water enters the cracks of the rocks. When it freezes it expands, loosening the material.”

Richard Edmonds, a local geologist, said the new rift left the entire section of the escarpment dangerously unstable

Richard Edmonds, a local geologist, said the new rift left the entire section of the escarpment dangerously unstable

It's rockfall season, said Nick Bell, a spokesman for the West Bay Coast Guard.  He said: People should stay away from the cliff, and take care to walk on the beaches below it in case they fall.

It’s rockfall season, said Nick Bell, a spokesman for the West Bay Coast Guard. He said: People should stay away from the cliff, and take care to walk on the beaches below it in case they fall.

Tens of thousands of surfers walk it every year, but the unstable cliffs mean the stretch of coast is notorious for landslides.

Tens of thousands of surfers walk it every year, but the unstable cliffs mean the stretch of coast is notorious for landslides.

Rob Samson, the Coast Guard's regional director, added that the stretch of cliff was 'very unstable' and could collapse without warning.

Rob Samson, the Coast Guard’s regional director, added that the stretch of cliff was ‘very unstable’ and could collapse without warning.

Rob Samson, the Coast Guard’s regional director, added that the stretch of the cliff was “very unstable” and could collapse without warning.

Russell Gough, part of Dorset Council’s Countryside Project development team, said they were watching the rift closely and were prepared to close the southwest coastal path, which is only 60 feet from it.

He said: ‘We are working with the National Trust to see if it poses a risk to the coastal path. We’ve had another fall there in recent months and that’s a continuation of that.

Graham Hutt, the local photographer, said the cliff section was “on hold and about to launch in the next week or so.” He said several other cracks appeared to the east and signs were erected warning the public that the rocks might fall.

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