Research Locations: I-Earthquakes and Tsunamis II-Sea Level III-Hurricanes/Storms

Sea Level Rise

Relative sea-level histories are important for calibrating and constraining geophysical models of Earth's rheology and the isostatic adjustment of Earth to ice and water loads. The stability of sea level has been an important factor in sustaining coastal communities and may have profoundly influenced the very initiation of human civilization. Coastal communities are now threatened by sea-level rise, a situation that will only worsen given the projections of warming and thermal expansion over the next century. By reconstructing sea-level records with the resolution capable of identifying changes in rates of relative sea-level through time including previous climate anomalies (Medieval Climate Anomaly and Little Ice Age) will provide excellent benchmarks with which to gauge future sea-level scenarios.


Archives of earthquakes, inferred from geological evidence, aid in anticipating the potential timing and magnitude of future events. This natural warning system now influences building code and planning particularly in areas where relative sea-level records have demonstrated the occurrence of paleoearthquakes larger than those known from the written and instrumental records. Estimating the amount of coseismic subsidence is essential for mapping the coastal extent of plate-boundary ruptures and inferring the magnitude of past megathrust earthquakes. Elastic dislocation models use the amount of coseismic land-level change in modeling the length and width of ruptures and the amount of slip on the megathrust, important for understanding the full hazard assessment.


The mapping and identification of tsunami deposit characteristics may help estimate earthquake source location/magnitude, and aid in understanding how tsunamis affect the ecology and geomorphology of coastlines. A further interest is how tsunami deposits are preserved in the geologic record and how different this is from their initial deposit, and what sedimentological characteristics are lost or redistributed.


The instrumental record of tropical cyclone activity is too short to fully capture the occurrence of the rare but most destructive events. Obtaining a record of past landfalling tropical cyclones (known as paleotempestology), and their ecological impacts, is one means to assess future risk, reveal spatial and temporal variability of tropical cyclone activity and decipher its relationship with global climatic dynamics.