Knight, J. and Burningham, H., 2020. What controls bedrock shore platform hardness? A field study from South Africa. In: Malvárez, G. and Navas, F. (eds.), Global Coastal Issues of 2020. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 95, pp. 537-541. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Bedrock shore platforms are common features along the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa but their properties and controls have not been well reported. This study presents high-resolution evidence for rock surface properties and hardness values from a sandstone platform at Morgan's Bay (Eastern Cape, South Africa) where the relative roles of environmental versus lithological factors on bedrock surface hardness can be evaluated. Results show that there is very little correspondence between rock hardness and either absolute platform elevation or distance from low water position of sea level. Two contrasting conceptual models are proposed to explain these results. One model proposes that a uniform geological control dominates, despite variations in environmental forcing. The alternative model considers that environmental controls such as waves and subaerial weathering do not significantly vary over the platform, despite any differences in platform relief and microenvironment. These different models can be used as testable hypotheses to evaluate the relative controls on, and thus interpretations of, measurements of rock surface hardness on shore platforms.