Improving tsunami hazard assessment by novel Inverse modelling (INUNDATION)

Lead supervisor: Dr Jon Hill, Environment Department, University of York

Co-supervisors:  Dr Georges Kesserwani (Sheffield, Civil & Structural Engineering), Dr Sue Dawson (Dundee)

To discuss your suitability for this project please email:

Tsunamis are a major potential hazard across the world for which careful long term planning is needed to save lives. A crucial part of that planning is the tsunami history of a region, which must take into account the long-term risk and the worst-case events. Recent tsunami events in the Indian Ocean (2004) and Japan (2011) resulted in over 300,000 fatalities and caused over 30 billion US$ of damage. However, both events were not unprecedented and sedimentary deposits of prehistoric tsunamis are found in both locations. Even the UK has a history of large tsunami events on 1000-year timescales. However, palaeo-tsunamis deposits are rare and limited in extent but are preserved in coastal regions. It is possible to reconstruct tsunamis that occurred thousands of years ago using the sediments they leave behind and hence build up a long-term archive of events which can be used in hazard assessments

This project will create a new way of modelling tsunami events from their sedimentary signature. Blending model development with fieldwork it will create a unique opportunity for a student with a strong mathematical or physical sciences background. The project will use the latest numerical techniques and open source software to recreate historic and prehistoric tsunamis, including the Storegga tsunami that hit the UK 8125 years ago (see Fieldwork will be carried out in Scotland and will use the model to predict key localities for new tsunami deposits from Storegga.

This project will suit a student wanting to continue in research or develop a wide range of key skills for future employment.


  • Mathematical or physical science background
  • Some programming experience (Python, Fortran)
  • Some Linux experience

For more information on the supervisors see

Funding Notes

Fully funded for a minimum of 3.5 years, studentships cover: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£14,296 for 2016-2017), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.  Studentships are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.  Students from EU countries who do not meet residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.

Requirements: At least a 2:1 honours degree, or equivalent.  There are language requirements for international students.

Other information

This PhD project is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment).  This is a partnership between the Universities of York, Sheffield and Liverpool, and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

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