The white cliffs of Dover experienced a "substantial" rockfall today, causing a large section of the cliff face to shear off and collapse into the English Channel. Rain, first freezing and then expanding after being absorbed in the chalk cliffs, may have caused the collapse, the Guardian reports. "No one was injured but it does serve as a reminder that if people are walking along the cliff-top or underneath, that the cliff can crumble away," says a coast guard spokesperson.
The cliffs have experienced other large rockfalls, with a significant one last January. "I have seen pictures of the rockfall and the most noticeable thing is you can see this big patch of white on the cliff-face," says a local. January's rockfall "happened during the day and was quite scary, with people screaming on the beach saying it had fallen. When the cliff does fall, it is quite muted and sounds like a lorry going down the hill. There isn't any physical warning beforehand. When it happens, it just happens."