This page was updated on 16th September 2013.
Topical: Napoli ... written 2nd February 2007
Branscombe Beach Sediments following the grounding of the MSC Napoli, South Devon
See Wreck of the Napoli for details of the events leading up to the problems on Branscombe Beach.
COASTAL RESEARCH took samples of the sediments shortly after containers from the Napoli were washed up on the beach, and a few days after contractors moved in to start the 'clean up'. The contractors dumped two types of material on the beach (late January) to assist their task: quarry sediments and broken brick. The former was dumped near the High Water Mark, just East of the stream. The latter has been spread across an area of the upper beach near where the small road and stream meet the natural shingle.
Samples were taken of natural beach shingle and the quarry sediments. These two samples are commented upon below.
Natural Beach Shingle. This sample was taken from the Spring High Water Mark berm just West of the stream in an area that had not experienced too much human interference during the popular beachcombing episode. Mostly flint pebbles, sub-rounded, with the usual examples of concave surfaces; some quartzite pebbles, sub-rounded. Size range (b-axis) 9-24 mm.
Quarried pebbles with fine sediments. These sediments were tipped by contractors, probably on Monday 29th January 2007. Quantity tipped: at least 100 tonnes. Source may be one of the East Devon aggregate quarries. The material may be relict beach material laid down during a previous interglacial combined with local New Red Sandstone deposits. The sample was taken with Police supervision as the dumped material was in an area cordoned off by contractors. The pebbles are mostly quartzite and sub-rounded. Upper limit of size range (b-axis) is 39 mm. The lower limit for sub-rounded pebbles is 7 mm. The sample contains pieces of angular material such as quartz up to 12 mm. There is finer New Red Sandstone from coarse sand grains right down to just a few microns. Material finer than 2 mm accounts for 3 per cent of the sample by weight.
Early hydraulic vehicles brought to beach were wheeled. Machinery in use at time samples were taken were track laying. The broken brick had been spread as a base for track laying vehicles to operate. At the time the quarried material had not been put to any use.