Bluffs & Rocky Shores

The majority (58%) of the Maine coast is hard rock. The rocky coast is relatively stable over time, but soil can erode along the shoreline. Another 40% or 1,400 miles of Maine's shoreline has soft bluffs: tall (over three feet), with steep slopes of loose rock, gravel, clay, or sand that easily erode. One of the biggest hazards associated with soft bluffs is the threat of landslides, especially in high coastal bluffs made of muddy sediment.

NOTE: Maine classifies all areas below the highest annual tide elevation, including rocky shores, sand beaches, mud flats, and salt marshes, as "Coastal Wetlands." In order to facilitate problem solving on this website, Coastal Wetland types have been grouped into three categories: Beaches & Dunes; Bluffs & Rocky Shores; and Coastal Wetlands.

Learn more about Maine’s rocky shores and soft bluffs.

Checklist to ID coastal hazards on your property

A checklist has been developed to help you identify and rank bluff hazards, using the maps and other resources in this guide and by conducting a field inventory of your property.
 Download Bluff and Landslide checklist - 123KB

Hard bluff
Hard Bluff

Soft Bluff
   

Bluff Hazard Actions at a Glance

My bluff is eroding. What can I do?

Speak early and often to town officials and state agency staff.

Weigh the risks, with help from a certified geologist, licensed engineer, or other professional.

Finally, consider your options for taking action: