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Don’t be too quick to blame global warming

Published: 
Friday, March 2, 2018

The housing collapse in Cedros due to massive landslides has been brought over to us, the public, in terms such as “coastal erosion”, and was said to be even due to “global warming” by one official.

I have a different view; the collapse of the cliff face was not due to direct action of the sea, as

The landslide in Bamboo Village, Cedros which occurred on Monday. PICTURE RISHI RAGOONATHthis occurred somewhat inland. The housing development was an unplanned one, situated on an elevated table, with an exposed face towards the sea. It consists almost entirely of sand and hardened silt, both soil types extremely susceptible to voiding and liquefaction by the action of water.

Water can get into the substrate through cracks in the ground from several sources: a) slightly acidic rain water; b) waste water from all the houses in the development; c) ground water (water table). Someone mentioned “‘sinkhole”. I do not believe there was typical sinkhole activity; I believe there was subsidence due to lateral movement of the land towards the cliff face. Water causes increased pressure in the ground.

From the discolouration of the soil in the collapsed cliff face, it shows evidence of the intrusion of water from one of the above mentioned sources or underground intrusion of sea water.

Coastal erosion is a continuous process, it’s not noticeable from day to day but over an extended period of time except in catastrophic events such as storms and floods. This Cedros incident was a localised event caused by an unplanned housing development and natural processes taking place in certain soil types.

Let us not be too quick to jump on the “global warming” bandwagon, even though it’s real enough.

JOEL QUINTAL

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