Coastal chalk cliff retreat rates during the Holocene, inferred from submarine platform morphology and cosmogenic exposure along the Normandy coast (NW France)

Research areas:
Coastal cliffs, Chalk, Erosion, Rock platform, Holocene, Cosmogenic dating
Marine Geology
Submerged marine terraces potentially provide crucial information on past sea-level variations and paleo-coastline locations that may be used to estimate long-term coastal erosion rates. The Normandy coastline has recently been surveyed using a shallow water high-resolution mapping system. We identified a new continuous submarine platform, called the inner platform, limited by a shore parallel edge located between -9 m and -10 m (NGF) along the Normandy chalk coastline. A lower rock platform, called the outer platform, ranging from about -14 m to -17 m (NGF) appears locally. This corresponds to inherited preserved submarine terraces created during a past sea level highstand. The high cosmogenic 10Be concentration measured at the end of Mesnil-Val inner shore platform (including intertidal and subtidal shore platforms) is attributed to the last glacial cliff location at 6.5 ky ± 1 ky. From the spatial edge location of the inner platform in Normandy, we estimated cliff retreat rates since 6.5 ky ± 1 ky ranging from 0.051 ± 0.008 m/y to 0.090 ± 0.014 m/y from place to place. Comparisons with the current coastal chalk cliffs indicate a mean retreat rate estimated over the contemporary period suggesting such long-term retreat rates are 33% to 57% lower than the contemporary ones (0.10 m/y to 0.18 m/y). This confirms a contemporary acceleration of chalk cliff system retreat rates.