Wider Project

The UK Coastal Floodstone Project forms part of a wider PhD research project being undertaken by Greg Rushby at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Geography. This wider project is described below.

Assessing coastal flood risk though mean and extreme sea-levels derived from sedimentary and historic archives

Prof. Mark Bateman, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield
Prof. Roland Gehrels, Environment Department, University of York

From a perspective of coastal flood risk, the pressures of climate change come from the effects of changes in relative sea-level alongside changes in the relative magnitude and frequency of storm surges, and hence tidally driven flooding.

Because of shortcomings associated with the brevity of instrumental records of sea level from tide gauges (typically 50 to 100 years of data); this PhD project attempts to augment instrumental records of mean and extreme sea-levels with data derived from both sedimentary archives and historic archives. This is done in order to examine both; the changing magnitude-frequency of storm surges over the last few centuries, and changes in relative mean sea-level. These records are then to be used to make inferences for the contemporary and future management of coastal flood risk in the context of a changing climate.

This website, the UK Coastal Floodstone Project, represents the historic archive to be used in this project.

The sedimentary record of extreme sea-level is provided by coastal sand dunes. It has been proposed that the presence of high energy sediments, for example concentrated deposits of marine shells and coarse sediments, held at a measurable elevation in the dunes can reflect the height of historic extreme sea-levels (Cunningham et al. 2011). The age these sediments, and hence the date of these extreme sea-levels, can be derived using luminescence dating techniques. This aspect of the project attempts apply this approach to deriving multi-centennial records of extreme sea-levels on the coastlines of North Norfolk and South-East Anglesey.

The record of the mean sea-level will be provided by salt marshes. The intention is to derive a record of mean sea-level changes from salt marshes using the environmental gradients of microfossils such as foraminifera to derive an indicative meaning. This method is now well established in salt marshes (Barlow et al. 2014). This study however will attempt to apply luminescence dating to salt marsh sediments in order to provide a novel dating method of recent salt marsh sediments and thereby bypass the issue of “radiocarbon wiggle”.