On Friday 9 March 2012 a large part of the White Cliffs of Dover, in the Crab Bay area, between Langdon Cliffs and the South Foreland Lighthouse fell into the sea. This is thought to be a result of water soaking into the porous chalk, then freezing, cracking the rock of the cliff face. Such events are not unusual; the last such event at Dover being in January 2011, though they are dramatic, and can be alarming and even dangerous.
The section of collapsed cliffs. Kent Messenger.
While such events are hazardous, and coastal erosion a concern for communities in the areas where it occurs, they are not without their positive side. Without periodic collapses the White Cliffs turn green with algae that grows on the surface of the chalk. Cliff collapses are also interesting to palaeontologists and fossil collectors, as they expose fossils that have been buried within the cliffs. This can sometimes be hazardous in itself, as the best time to collect fossils is soon - before the sea starts to erode the rockfalls away. Inexperienced fossil hunters should always seek advice before approaching a recent cliff face.
Fossil nautiloid from the chalk near Dover. UK Fossil Network.
Sea Urchin from the chalk near Dover. UK Fossil Network.
Irregular Ammonite from the chalk near Dover. UK Fossil Network.