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Cliff collapses in Del Mar, briefly halting train traffic

Posted: 5:18 PM, Aug 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-23 06:15:27Z

DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) -- Train traffic in Del Mar was stopped Wednesday, after a cliff collapse near 11th Street. 

It was a beautiful afternoon for sun and surf until the earth came tumbling down. Del Mar resident, Ingrid Hoffmeister has seen it for years - the cliffs in front of her home, slowly disappearing.

“We all know it’s happening, so it’s not a surprise," Hoffmeister said. “It’s getting closer and closer to the path of where you’re walking.”

Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, plumes of dust filled the air, as enormous chunks of the Del Mar cliffs came crumbling down onto the beach. A 10News Insagram follower sent this video of the fall: 

Geologist Pat Abbott explained that the bottom layers of the bluffs are made up of strong white stone. The top material is brittle sandstone. 

"It’s so weak, it crumbles in my hands," Dr. Abbott said. “Ocean waves are on the bottom, people watering their plants soaking through the rock, seeping the strength out of it, all those things working to weaken an already weak rock, allow gravity to do its thing.”

There are also trains along the cliffs, that pass through and spread vibrations several times a day, which contribute to the erosion. 

"Every little thing that weakens the rock speeds up the inevitable," Dr. Abbott said. 

Beyond the newly taped-off restriction zone, there is another crack already forming. Orange spikes are hammered onto the ground. Dr. Abbott said that area would be the next chunk to fall. If that happens, that will give the train tracks only about 20 feet from the edge of the cliff. Some say that is way too close for comfort, and just a matter of time until a major-casualty tragedy hits paradise. 

“Most of us that have been doing this, know that our time is numbered," Hoffmeister said. 

The collapse briefly closed traffic between Solana Beach and Sorrento Valley. Trains 785 and 580 were affected by the incident. Train service resumed by 5:15 p.m.

No one was injured in the collapse. 

Sky10 was in Del Mar just after the collapse happened. Watch here: