Landslide event rocks Davaar

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A section of cliff on Davaar Island appears to have collapsed on to the rocks below.

The rockfall was spotted by Graham Hall, from near Carlisle in Cumbria, on Sunday January 2, during a festive visit to Kintyre.

The keen photographer took a couple of photographs and posted them on social media where the landslide was speculated to have happened recently, given the colour of the rocks.

Some people expressed concerns for the safety of the island’s wild goats and nesting birds, as well as people visiting the cave painting of the crucifixion, although the rockfall appears to be just beyond the cave.

A section of steep rockface has collapsed on Davaar. Photograph: Graham Hall.
A section of steep rockface has collapsed on Davaar. Photograph: Graham Hall.

According to the British Geological Survey, several factors can increase a slope’s susceptibility to landslide events including rock falls, topples, slides and flows. These are:

  • Water: adding water to the material on a slope makes a landslide more likely to happen because water adds weight, lowers the strength of the material and reduces friction, making it easier for material to move downslope
  • Erosion processes: if the bottom of a slope is continually eroded, for example by the sea or a river, the slope will eventually become too steep to hold itself up
  • Slope angle (steepness of slope): any change to this that makes it steeper (such as coastal erosion) increases the likelihood of a landslide
  • Rock type: the type of rocks in the slope, and their combination, can increase the chance of a landslide
  • Grain shape: the shape of the grains that make up a rock can affect the risk of a landslide
  • Jointing and orientation of bedding planes
  • Arrangement of the rock layers
  • Weathering processes: for example freeze-thaw reduces the cohesion between the rock grains
  • Vegetation: vegetation helps bind material together; removing vegetation increases the chance of a landslide
  • Flooding
  • Volcanoes and earthquake activity nearby
  • Human activity: mining, traffic vibrations or urbanisation change surface water drainage patterns.

Perhaps Kintyre’s recent wet and wintry weather is responsible for hastening this particular rockfall.

Interestingly, in the past, stone quarried from Davaar Island was used to build several Campbeltown homes and buildings, including the Lorne and Lowland Church.