Coastal Features: Chalk Cliff Erosion, Ballard Down Fault
Ballard Down Fault
The faulted Chalk cliff section here is part of the Purbeck Monocline, and area of cliff that has been tilted through 90 degrees. Scientists still arenít sure what processes were at work to form this anomaly, but what is known is that the forces must have been tremendous. The fault lies within the Chalk ridge that runs inland through the Isle of Purbeck and outcrops to form the cliff at Flowers Barrow above Worbarrow Bay 12 (19.5 km) miles away. This ridge would once have joined up with the Needles across Poole Bay on the Isle of Wight. The fault is best seen from the sea.
Chalk Cliff Erosion
Erosion of coastal Chalk cliffs is slow. Chalk is relatively hard, and only becomes unstable when the sea has carved a cave into its base, destabilising the weight of cliff above. The sea then has to wash away the cliff fall before the process can start all over again. The milky coloured seawater found at the base of Chalk cliffs, particularly around fresh falls, is evidence of coastal cliff erosion in progress.
Coastal Visitor Centre
Studland Beach Information Centre
Town/Village or Area:
Tourist Info Centres
in this Area: Ballard Down
The chalk downland of Ballard Down is managed by the National Trust and represents a rare habitat with a rich biodiversity of insect and plant life.
Interest: WW2 Aircraft Firing Range
WW2 Aircraft Firing Range
The cliffs of Ballard Down were used as a gunnery range for training fighter pilots during WW2 and the seabed is littered with their spent brass shell cases, some of which make useful homes for the marine life.