Greg Rushby

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

Funding: Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment DTP (ACCE), NERC

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


I am a physical geographer and geomorphologist with a particular interest in the interaction between humans and coastal and catchment environments. In particular I am interested in the role sedimentary archives play in informing climate change adaptation and environmental management in such settings; as well as the integrated management of these environments. More broadly my interests also extend into Quaternary science and its importance in understanding the potential future of the Earth’s climate and environment.

Research Interests

Coastal and Fluvial Geomorphology and Management, Sea-Level Change, Climate Change Adaptation, Quaternary Science, Geochronology, Luminescence Dating, Pb210 and Cs137 Dating Palaeoenvironments and Palaeoecology, Catchment Coast Continuum.

Project Description

From a perspective of coastal flood risk, the pressures of climate change come mainly in the form of changes in relative sea-level and changes in the relative magnitude and frequency of storm surges.
Because of shortcomings associated with the brevity of instrumental records of sea-level, this research attempts to integrate two sedimentological records obtained from two different coastal 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 under a changing climate.

imageThe record of extreme sea-level is provided by coastal sand dunes. It is proposed that the presence of high energy sediments held at a measurable elevation in the dunes can reflect the height of historic extreme sea-levels. The age these sediments, and hence the date of these extreme sea-levels, can be derived using luminescence dating techniques. This study attempts; to explore the validity of this approach to deriving multi-centennial records of extreme sea-level; to develop this method further; and to employ these records in assessing future flood risk for UK coasts.

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 and diatoms to derive the indicative meaning. This method is now well established in salt marshes. 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".

Academic Background

  • MRes - Sustainable Environmental Management - Distinction: University of Plymouth
    Thesis: Exploring the multi-decadal temporal dynamics of catchment to coast fine sediment delivery using floodplain sedimentation rates: A case study employing fallout radionuclides on the River Avon, Devon. Supervisor: Will Blake
  • BSc (Hons) - Geography - 1st: University of Plymouth
    Thesis: An Investigation into the Impacts of Historic Mining on Salt Marshes: Geochemistry, Erosion and Environmental Risk of the Tamar’s Salt Marshes (Editing for publication in progress). Supervisor: Roland Gehrels

Conferences, Training and External Work


  • Dec - Attended NERC Quaternary palaeoecology short course: London NHM
  • Octr - Attended Windy Days Conference (8/10/14): University of Oxford
  • Jan to May – Research Assistant: Plym Uni, WRT Haddeo Restoration, Supervisor: Peter Downs


  • Research Assistant, Plym Uni: Various Natural England projects. Supervisor: Will Blake


  • GEO166 – Earth’s Evolution (Lab and Field Demonstration)

Address: Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
Twitter: @GregRushby