the state of art


Session 1: Geomorphological processes along rock coasts (Wayne Stephenson and Marta Pappalardo)

Session 2: Landforms of rock coasts (Giuseppe Mastronuzzi and Larissa A. Naylor)

Session 3.1: Monitoring rock coasts: drivers and responses (Mike Lim and Zuzanna Swirad)

Session 3.2: Climate, geohazards and sea-level change impacts on the rocky coast - Large-term scale (Fabrizio Antonioli and Augusto Perez Alberti)

​​​​​​​​​​​Session 4: Modelling of rock coast evolution (Adam Young and Ritienne Gauci)

Session 5: Rock coast in the Anthropocene (Cherith Moses and David Kennedy)

​​​​​​​​​​​Session 6: Techniques and methods in rock coasts (Florin Pendea and Heather Viles)

Session 1: Geomorphological processes along rock coasts (Wayne Stephenson and Marta Pappalardo)

Weathering, biological and marine processes all operate along rock coasts worldwide. In the last two decades research on rock coasts has been mostly focussed on providing qualitative and quantitative assessment of the magnitude and type of these processes, through innovative methods and tools. Both laboratory and experimental activities have been employed, and novel approaches were inspired by disciplines other than Geomorphology. Although our knowledge on rock coasts processes has improved, the avenue towards a general comprehension of these processes is still to be achieved. This topic is particularly relevant for environmental studies because changes in magnitude, frequency and type of processes along rocky coasts are likely to impact not only on future rock coast morphology but also as a result of factors driving climate change.

This session is aimed at bringing together a wide range of research on processes acting along rock coasts. We invite abstracts that present observational investigation and/or manipulative experiments to advance understanding of marine, physical, chemical and biological processes responsible for coastal rocks change, as well as of their mutual interactions. Potential topics may include, but are not limited to: mechanical wave erosion, chemical weathering, salt weathering, wetting and drying, frost action and bioerosion.



​​​​​​​​​Session 2: Landforms of rock coasts (Giuseppe Mastronuzzi and Larissa A. Naylor)

The present day landscape (and associated landforms) of rocky coastal areas worldwide is a palimpsest of different past and present processes. At the macro-scale, the geographic variability and spatial configuration of rock coast landscapes globally is controlled by long-term factors such as continental systems influencing the distribution of rocks and oceanic conditions; past glacial and sea level histories and the tectonic history of a region. Some of the signature of rock coast landforms today is a product of these past processes upon which present day processes interact. In the present day, and the regional to local (i.e. study site) scale, a suite of physical, chemical, biological and human processes interact with the past history of the landscape to create, sculpt and modify the rock coast landforms shaping our coast’s today. In addition, climate change related factors interact with tectonic or eustatic coastal changes in some coastal settings where tides, waves, currents and sea level changes interact with vertical movement of the litosphere (e.g. due to tectonics or eustatic adjustment), where landforms can be submerged, are raised and/or are modified.  The resulting landscape and landforms are thus the the result of the processes acting on the local rocky basement in relation to its lithostructural features, local tectonics and isostasy, the eustatism and antropic acts.  There is growing global research across all scales of rock coast landform development from answering questions on whether rock coast features are inherited or if rock cliff erosion rates are accelerating using techniques such as cosmogenic dating to studies examining the sediment dynamics on rock coast systems and the erosion and transport of rock coast derived erosion products linked closely to geological controls, through to finer spatial scale and higher temporal resolution scale studies of controls on rock decay, whether biota is protective or erosive and in tectonically active areas, how rock coast landforms respond post-event. Rock coast landforms are also increasingly being modelled. These recent advances to the field are most welcome and much needed as we try to understand how rock coast systems will respond to changing climatic pressures and predictions for storminess and sea level rise and how this will accelerate rates of landform development – and thus increase erosion risks for society.

This session welcomes papers which present new conceptual, modelling, remotely-sensed, laboratory or field-based studies of rock coast landforms and processes at all spatial and temporal scales. Topics of the proposed session are the quantitative and semi-quantitative description of: (ì) the effects of sea level, waves and/or ice acting at different time scales on rocky coast processes; (ìì) the genesis and dynamics of new landforms of rocky coasts and/or new features within rock coast landforms; (ììì) the modification of rocky slope and coasts in relation to climate change risks, including relative or eustatic change in sea level; (ìv) the adaptation of the past  and/or present landscape to the new coastal energetic system; (v) the impact of human activities on rock coast landforms and (vi) the positive contributions rock coast landscapes and landforms make to wider morphodynamic system and/or society.


Session 3.1: Monitoring rock coasts: drivers and responses (Mike Lim & Zuzanna Swirad)

Quantifying the rates and patterns of coastal erosion is crucial to understanding the dynamics of the coastal environment. In order to predict near future responses under anticipated changes such as altered weather patterns, rising sea-levels and management interventions, data of improved spatial and temporal extent and resolution are required. Significant recent progress has been made in three core areas that provide exciting developments in our understanding of rock coast dynamics, namely: measuring and modelling coastal change using point, planform and 3D datasets on both cliffs and shore platforms; innovative approaches to monitoring the driving and controlling factors on geomorphic change; and the development of analytical methods, notably big-data handling using machine learning techniques and application programming. These areas have the potential to provide a step change in our ability to predict future geomorphic behaviour and opened new perspectives in rock coast studies.

We invite the submission of abstracts broadly focused on: 1) the rates of coastal erosion measured with wide range of techniques (historical maps, aerial photographs, terrestrial and airborne LiDAR, terrestrial laser scanning, Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry, micro erosion meters and more) and assessment of measurement quality (errors, precision, level of detection); 2) spatial and temporal patterns of erosion (inter- and intra-annual change, across- and along-shore distribution of erosion); 3) data extrapolation in space and time (scaling issues, short-term reflection of long-term trends, outcome use in long-term modelling); 4) innovative approaches to accounting for the drivers and controls on rock coast dynamics; and 5) novel approaches to data analysis (magnitude/frequency analysis of erosion events, systematic spatial analysis, use of machine learning techniques).


Session 3.2: Climate, geohazards and sea-level change impacts on the rocky coast - Large-term scale (Fabrizio Antonioli and Augusto Perez Alberti)

Rocky coasts are subject to erosion process that work, usually, in long timescales and in response to high intensity and low frequency events. Thus, its dynamic is closely related to intense rains and marine storms. It is foreseeable that the sea level rise and the increase of energy in the future storms, could cause an instability increase in rocky coasts. This will have a special importance in cliff zones, but it also in shore platforms and boulder beaches.

This session has various aims. On one side, deeper into knowledge about rocky coast process associated with present climate conditions. Secondly, analyzing the evidence of past climate action in these areas. Finally, investigate the vulnerability of rocky coast systems regard to climate change and the future sea level rise.

We invite you to submit your abstracts that containing research results that improve the knowledge about past climate process and present marine dynamics. The proposes for the application of new analysis techniques that help to understand geomorphological dynamics in the future and their effects in the rocky coasts. Topics may include: rocky coastal response against marine storms or high intensity rains; vulnerability analysis of rocky coasts in the sea level rise context; monitoring systems for understand the variations in cliffs, shore platforms and boulder beaches; the implementation of GIS and Remote Sensing techniques in the rocky coast risk analysis.


​​​​​​​​​​​Session 4: Modelling of rock coast evolution (Adam Young and Ritienne Gauci)

The last two decades have witnessed a marked increase in the number and range of studies dedicated to the modelling of dynamics and behaviour of rock coast evolution. This session aims to continue building on this strong scientific interest by bringing together the latest research on modelling of rock coasts. We invite abstracts which present modelling work ranging from single event coastal change to long term coastal evolution. Potential topics may include, but are not limited to: dynamic geomorphic processes, wave-cliff interaction and cliff recession, wave transformation and variable resistance to wave impact, signatures of extreme wave events, landform morphology, coastal feedbacks, beach sediment/boulder on rock coasts, shore platform downwearing, bioerosion/biocontruction, subaerial processes, and slope stability. Modelling of past observations, predicting future coastal changes, coastal hazards, and related risks are also welcome.


Session 5: Rock coast in the Anthropocene (Cherith Moses and David Kennedy)

Some of the most rapidly eroding shorelines in the world are rock coasts, retreating tens of meters in a single event. Unlike shorelines composed of unconsolidated sediment, these cannot be replaced or rebuilt through sediment recharge or replenishment and usually an engineering solution is sought. Engineering solutions are not a permanent fix as shore platforms and cliffs are dynamic features which continue to evolve through retreat and downwearing despite human interventions. This continued erosion in the subaerial and marine realms shortens the lifespans of engineered structures.

Evidence indicates that climate change, through sea level rise and increased storminess, is exacerbating marine erosion of natural rock shorelines. Global air and sea temperature changes may also be impacting rock coast erosion, for example warming may cause increased erosion of Artic rock coasts and salt and wetting-drying weathering may become more effective in temperate climates. Changes in global rainfall patterns have important consequences for the subaerial, mass movement, processes that influence rock coast retreat.

With an increasing proportion of the world’s population living at or near the coast during the Anthropocene, the need for effective management of rock coasts is becoming more important. Engineering solutions to rock shoreline retreat are often complex involving the construction of sea defences and re-engineering of the natural cliff. Changes in marine and subaerial processes associated with climate change also influence the design life of these engineering solutions.

This session invites contributions from geomorphology to engineering focussing on (1) changing landform dynamics driven by human activities in the Anthropocene (eg climate change and reduced sediment supply), (2) the implications of rock coast evolution for engineered structures and (3) solutions for effective rock coast hazard management. Contributions may be research or case-study based.


​​​​​​​​​​​Session 6: Techniques and methods in rock coasts (Florin Pendea and Heather Viles)

There has been a revolution in methodological approaches to the study of rocky coasts in recent years with innovations coming from many different sources. A range of new tools have become available for modelling, dating, characterisation, monitoring and experimentation of rocky shore processes and landforms. Multi-method studies linking models to empirical datasets collected in the field and experimental results have become increasingly popular. Rocky coastal environments have also been a valuable testing ground for new analytical techniques, with several studies assessing their accuracy, precision and performance in the challenging field conditions provided by shore platforms and cliffs. This session aims to bring together a diverse array of researchers with shared interests in methods to collect, analyse and model rocky coastal data. We invite abstracts on all kinds of methods and techniques, from those that collect data directly to those that provide proxy information, from those that cover small areas and short time periods, to those providing information over large temporal and spatial scales, and from empirical to model-based methods. Potential topics may include, but are by no means limited to, dating techniques, modelling approaches, non destructive field methods, remote sensing methods and experiments.