Luis Rees-Hughes

Luis Rees-Hughes


PhD Project

Coasts are important ecological systems. They provide natural barriers from coastal flooding, habitats for diverse fauna and flora and are the location of much infrastructure and industry. Understanding coastal system response to sea-level change is important to be able to predict future system response and developing novel research approaches is vital to better respond to the threats to our coastlines.

Former coastal sequences provides archives of system response over time to changes in relative sea level. Some of the best-preserved palaeo coastal sediments are those from areas which have experienced periods of relative sea-level fall (often due to land uplift) burying them under modern terrestrial sediments. To identify and reconstruct such environments, current research methods typically use a limited number of borehole records from which the sedimentological information is then extrapolated into 2-dimensions. Although this provides detailed point-samples of the paleo-landscape, it can be difficult to ensure accurate extrapolation between control points, particularly if a borehole samples an anomalous structure. Geophysical survey represents a non-invasive means of expanding borehole control across a spatially extensive area, potentially offering 3-D insight into the large-scale morphology of the buried coastal system. Of particular promise in this application is ground penetrating radar (GPR).

This project will aim to develop a novel approach, using both GPR and borehole data, to reconstruct palaeo-coastal environments on a scale much greater than done previously. This will allow us to understand on a much large spatial scale how a coastal system response to sea-level change, rather just at a single borehole location. It also offers the potential by which to identify unconsolidated buried coastal sediments that may be susceptible to erosion under models of rising sea level. Fieldwork will focus on areas in the UK, such as North Wales and Scotland with coastal sediments buried under the modern land surface, above the elevation of the current high tides.


Funded as part of the Leeds York NERC DTP (Doctoral Training Partnership)


Research interests

Research Interests 

  • Applied Geophysics
  • Quaternary Geology
  • Military Geology
  • Archaeological Geophysics


  • BSc Geology and Physical Geography
  • MSc Geoscience Research
  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London

Research groups and institutes

  • Applied Geophysics
  • Institute of Applied Geoscience