The Jurassic Coast as you’ve never seen it before

South West scientists have released stunning images of what the coast at Lyme Regis looks like through the ‘eyes’ of their high-tech equipment.

They were produced using data gathered by a team working for the Plymouth Coastal Observatory to give a highly accurate picture of the cliffs as work on sea defences on that part of the Jurassic Coast progresses.

Scientist Emerald Siggery from the Observatory said: “We closely monitor other parts of the coastline for West Dorset District Council, so know that part of the world well, although our work regularly takes us from Portland Bill all the way round the South West peninsula to Gloucestershire.

“We were asked to produce the data so that engineers have baseline measurements to refer back to in the event of any future movement in the cliffs, which have a history of landslides.

“These pictures are representations of the data we have gathered using a laser scanner. The data is now being stored so that should there be any movement in the cliffs we can go back and complete another survey to give a highly accurate comparison.”

Other images from regular aerial surveys conducted by the Plymouth Coastal Observatory as part of the South West Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme show a comparison between what the cliffs looked like in 2007 and seven years later. There was a major landslip in the area in 2008, when a section around 400 metres long fell onto the beach.

The aerial surveys are conducted using LiDAR, which is similar to radar but uses light instead of radio waves.

The South West Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme is managed by Teignbridge District Council on behalf of the region’s maritime local authorities and the Environment Agency, and funded by Defra. The programme gathers huge amounts of vital information on the Westcountry’s coastline which is made freely available to councils, the Environment Agency, universities and others working in coastal and flood defence and related areas via the website www.coastalmonitoring.org/southwest.

The ground-based scanning work at Lyme Regis was specially commissioned as part of a land stabilisation and coastal protection programme to defend homes, roads and infrastructure against the effects of coastal erosion.

Image produced by laser scanning of sea defences at Lyme Regis for the South West Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme's Plymouth Coastal Laboratory
Image produced by laser scanning of sea defences at Lyme Regis for the South West Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme’s Plymouth Coastal Laboratory

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