Cornwall cliff collapse caught on video

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Oct. 9 2011 7:30 AM

Cornwall cliff collapse caught on video

I'm fascinated by some geological events, including landslides. They happen so rapidly it's rare to get them on video, but a lucky couple in Cornwall, UK*, were at the right place at just the right time, and caught this amazing footage of several thousand tons of rocks letting go off a cliff face:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


Wow! At 12 seconds in, though you can't see any rock movement, there is a crack in the cliff where debris is getting forced out, falling in a plume. The crack widens, and then WHOOSH!

This was pretty small as slides go (some are longer and move far more slowly). Some are huge, and if they fall into water can cause very, very large tsunamis; for a fun sleep full of nightmares, read up on the Lituya Bay landslide and megatsunami of 1958. Happily, this one in England was far too small to do that sort of thing.

Did you know we see evidence of landslides on Mars and the Moon as well? See the Related posts below, including a couple of shots of avalanches on Mars caught in the act!

And as for the Cornwall slide, I would love to see something like that in person some day... from a nice safe distance. Yowza.

* By coincidence, I just happened to write about Cornwall a few days ago, but that scene was somewhat more bucolic.

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