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Publications in VIVO

Ashton, Andrew Associate Scientist, Geology & Geophysics


The coast is one of the Earth’s most dynamic and exciting environments. Yet even as the shore constantly changes, human development is increasingly drawn to this hazardous region. My research goal is to understand how coastal systems work, with a focus on developing fundamental understanding of the processes that sculpt the shore from decades to millennia—the timescales spanning human development to geologic formation. Using numerical modeling and quantitative analysis, combined with field data, I examine the processes and feedbacks that shape active coastal environments, including sandy coastlines, coastal barriers, river deltas, rocky coasts, and carbonate reefs and atolls. I study how coastal features are created and change due to waves, currents, and sea-level rise, while also including the influence of terrestrial inputs (rivers), biologic processes, and anthropogenic alteration. By developing process-based understanding of how coastal features form and are reshaped, my research has revealed key process-based understanding of coastal dynamics. These findings improve both quantitative predictions of coastal change and conceptual models of landform formation, informing both coastal management strategies as well as sedimentologic and paleoclimatic interpretations, which otherwise may rely upon qualitative or inference-based models for interpretation of the environmental conditions that created a depositional environment. Looking towards the future decades and centuries, quantitative, process-based models will become increasingly necessary to project how coastal sedimentary systems will respond to historically unprecedented sea-level rise rates, wave climate changes, and human alteration, in particular the two-way coupling between natural and anthropogenic processes at the shoreline.

selected publications