Field of Research (FoR)
I am particularly interested in tsunamis – all aspects of tsunamis - hazard, risk and vulnerability assessment, disaster and emergency management – but in studying this particular natural hazard my interests have quite naturally extended to include a vast range of others. During my career I have worked in environments from the high mountains to the deep ocean and therefore all natural hazards and the associated...view more
I am particularly interested in tsunamis – all aspects of tsunamis - hazard, risk and vulnerability assessment, disaster and emergency management – but in studying this particular natural hazard my interests have quite naturally extended to include a vast range of others. During my career I have worked in environments from the high mountains to the deep ocean and therefore all natural hazards and the associated human-environment interactions are of interest to me. While I was originally trained as a geomorphologist and a geologist, I have broadened my involvement in natural hazard research to include risk perception, public education and awareness.
I have worked on natural hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, cyclones (and hurricanes!), volcanic eruptions, river floods, glacial outbursts, fires, and landslides in numerous locations such as Australia, Antarctica, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, The Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Hawaii, USA's Pacific Northwest, Canada, UK, France, Greece, Belize, Wallis and Futuna, Cook Islands, Japan, Taiwan, Marquesas - French Polynesia, Chile, Mexico and New Caledonia.
Not surprisingly my research covers a variety of topics right now and a reasonable geographic range mainly across the Asia-Pacifc region. This involves members of the Tsunami and Natural Hazards Research Group which includes senior researchers, PhDs and Honours students, and many international collaborators.
I either am or have been Adjunct Professor at the University of Hawaii and University of the South Pacific; Visiting Professor at Arizona State University, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, Isaac Manasseh Meyer Fellow at the National University of Singapore, Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Visiting Scientist at the United States Geological Survey, Santa Cruz, USA; Honorary Research Associate at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and “Scientist-in-Residence” at the Pacific Tsunami Museum, Hawaii.
- PhD: 1993, Department of Geology, University of Western Ontario, Canada
- MSc: 1991, Department of Geography, University Of Western Ontario, Canada
- BSc (Hons.): 1989, University College, Worcester, UK (1st)
My Research Goals
- To enhance our understanding of palaeotsunamis in the Asia-Pacific region
- To understand the depositional processes of modern tsunamis in order to better inform studies of earlier events
- To understand the records of human-environment interactions with catastrophic events from Traditional Environmental Knowledge and archaeological data
- To understand the hazard in order to better inform risk management, education, planning and policy
My Research in Detail
My students and I use a combination of field work and synthesis of data from the literature to quantify hazards, most commonly tsunamis, but any form of natural hazard. We use a multi-proxy toolbox of analytical techniques to identify evidence for past events, coupled with geomorphological, anthropological and archaeological information where available. This involves field, laboratory and library work to better understand our catastrophic past. In order to carry out this research we collaborate with geologists, archaeologists, anthropologists, geographers and many other disciplines from all around the world.
Current Student Projects (PhD and Honours)
David Edwards (PhD Candidate) – Bank erosion and boat wakes on the lower Hawkesbury River
Claire Kain (PhD candidate) – Tsunami signatures: Understanding the dynamics of pre-historic tsunamis from evidence in the landscape (Joint supervisor with Dr. Catherine Chagué-Goff)
Darren King (PhD candidate) – Tsunami disturbance, recurrence and risk along the New Zealand’s coast: learning from differences in knowledge, practice and belief (Joint supervisors: Dr. Catherine Chagué-Goff, Dr. Wendy Shaw).
Len Martin (PhD Candidate) (Joint supervision with Associate Professor Scott Mooney)
Jordan Chan (Honours candidate) – Palaeoenvironmental record from Lake Tiriara, Mangaia, Cook Islands (joint supervised with Dr. Catherine Chagué-Goff)
Emma McDonald (Honours candidate) - Aboriginal Astronomical Traditions in the Hunter Region, NSW (joint supervised with Dr. Duane Hamacher (Nura Gili), Prof. Ray Norris (CSIRO))
I would love to talk to potential PhD students who are interested in working on projects related to tsunamis and natural hazards with a particular focus on better understanding the characteristics of past events. Exciting ideas though are always welcome.
TEACHING & OUTREACH
GEOS1211: Environmental Earth Science
GEOS3621: Natural Hazards and their Management
In The Media
- Normile, D. (2011) Tohoku Inundation Spurs Hunt for Ancient Tsunamis. Science, 334, 1341-1343.
- Witze, A. (2012) Making Waves, Science News, February 25th, 22-25.
- Did “forgotten” meteor have a deadly, icy double-punch”? http://www.science.unsw.edu.au/news/did-%E2%80%9Cforgotten%E2%80%9D-meteor-have-deadly-icy-double-punch; http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/09/20/3594552.htm
- Bayliss, R. (2012) Giant asteroid, mega-tsunami may have triggered Ice Age. Cosmos. http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/6052/giant-asteroid-triggered-ice-age
- Geodigest (2012) Future research following the 2011 Tohoku oki eathquake and tsunami. Geology Today, 29 (2), 50-52.
- Oskin, B. (2013) Killer Waves: How Tsunamis Changed History http://www.livescience.com/28301-how-tsunamis-changed-history.html
- Science Daily (2014): Australian tsunami database reveals threat to continent http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501101127.htm
Tsunami, earthquake, volcano, natural hazards in general, hazard awareness and education, warning systems