Sandstone: Eroding Bluffs

The images in this collection convey a sense of scale of both the bluffs and the high rate of erosion that continually reshapes the retreating sandstone. All but one of the images directly suggest the presence of the ocean as a prime cause of the erosion. Depending on whose measurement you believe, the ocean bluff in our area is retreating at an average rate of 6 inches to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) per year.

I grew up in New England. The coast there is dominated by granite which weathers only very slowly and tends to be polished by the ocean. Sedimentary rock was long ago eroded away from the geologically much older coast of New England, exposing the basement layers of granite. The coast of California is geologically very young and is continuing to be uplifted by tectonic forces, exposing the sandstone that dominates our coast.

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