The sandstone shore platform at Carr Rocks
Geography worksheet on shore platforms in East Lothian
The limestone shore platform at Chapel Point
Definition: a rock shelf fringing the coastline between the low and high water marks
Shore platforms are classic features fringing many rocky shores around the world yet many questions remain about their origins and age. Shore platforms are shaped by a combination of processes, including wave action, subaerial weathering and biogenic activity but the balance of activity at different locations is often difficult to discern. The platforms are lowered and extended through time but long-term rates of erosion remain little known. Hence the age of shore platforms is also often obscure - but it is clear that modern rock shorelines retain many landforms inherited from earlier sea levels.
The coastline of East Lothian has well-developed shore platforms, with widths of up to 500 m. It is a special coastline along which to study shore platform formation for several reasons. Rock types are highly varied, so the effects of lithology and structure on shore platform morphology can be identified. The sea level history is well known. Unusually, the shoreline has one or more raised shore platforms created around 5000 years ago from which the modern platforms appear to have been partly fashioned. This means that there is a datum against which to measure long-term erosion. The presence of large boulders on many platforms, some glacial erratics and others generated by continuing erosion, allows wave dynamics on the platforms to be explored.