View of the Cliffs of Moher and Atlantic Ocean.; View of the Cliffs of Moher and Atlantic Ocean.;

Cliffs of Moher geohazard assessment, Co. Clare

Cliffs of Moher: how digital tools are helping survey this inaccessible cliff face

Located on the west coast of Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher rise above the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. The impressive 214m high siltstone and sandstone cliffs are one of Ireland’s most popular tourist hotspots.

Battered by frequent, intense storms caused by climate change, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre and Clare County Council asked Arup to carry out a geohazard assessment to provide insights into the mechanisms and impacts of erosion, identify areas at risk and feed into future development plans at this protected natural site.

Arup’s team of geotechnical and digital engineering specialists used a range of digital tools to create a 3D model of the cliffs, with detailed information which allowed us to assess the behaviour of the rockmass at the inaccessible cliff edge and face. The 3D model was based on a series of visual assessments, field mapping and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), topographic and geophysical surveys.

Project Summary


370million data points on digital model

214mhigh cliffs

1.6millionpeople visited the cliffs in 2019

View of Cliffs of Moher showing people on the visitor paths. View of Cliffs of Moher showing people on the visitor paths.
The Cliffs of Moher are a UNESCO Global Geopark – a location with outstanding geology.

Digital tools help analyse site geohazards

Including over 370 million data points, the model provides an overview of the condition and structure of the overburden and rock at the cliff edge and face. This enhanced digital data formed the basis of stereographic, kinematic and slope stability analyses. Our interactive 3D cliff model can be updated through ongoing monitoring, helping the client track and assess the effects of climate change by analysing ongoing erosion, and inform any future potential developments.

These digital tools are useful for any geohazard investigation, particularly in hard to reach places.

Our interactive digital model of the Cliffs of Moher includes a comprehensive baseline dataset that will help us protect this natural heritage site, tracking and monitoring the effects of climate change over time at the cliffs. ” Marie Fleming Marie Fleming Associate, Ground Engineering

Using various survey techniques, we remotely captured data to analyse and interrogate the geology as part of our geohazard assessment of the cliffs. By creating an interactive digital model, this comprehensive baseline dataset can be used for future developments.
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