is the headland that forms the most northerly point of the
The most striking
aspect of Flamborough Head are the white chalk cliffs that
surround it. The chalk lies in distinct horizontal layers,
formed from the remains of tiny sea creatures millions of
years ago. Above the chalk at the top of the cliffs is a layer
of till (glacial deposits) left behind by glaciers 18,000
years ago, during the last Ice Age. As the cliffs below are
worn away by the action of the waves, the clay soil often
falls into the sea in huge landslips.
The sea attacks the
coast around the headland in two ways. Waves beat against
the vertical cliffs and, at the high water line, weak points
in the chalk are worn away into caves. The weakest points
are where vertical cracks or fault lines have appeared in
the horizontal beds of chalk. At places on the cliffs where
the chalk juts out, these caves are worn away into rock arches.
If the top of an arch collapses, the result is a pillar of
chalk cut off from the rest of the headland - this is called
a stack. Flamborough Head has many caves and arches, as well
as a few stacks. The process of erosion that has created them
can take hundreds of years to do its work.