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Hannah Mallinson (2015)

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The dissertation was praised by the committee for being an all-round excellent piece of work that was well executed. Hannah was unable to attend the awards ceremony to receive her award in person.

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Title: Glacial Isostatic Adjustment of the British Isles: A study of coastal response in Western Scotland and Southern Wales.

Abstract: The aim of this research was to investigate the present-day influence of glacial isostatic adjustment and thus, relative sea level change, on the coastal morphology of the British Isles. Two sandy coastal systems were chosen with opposing rates of relative land level change, Machrihanish Bay in Western Scotland and Rhossili Bay in Southern Wales. Using both historical and modern delineations of Mean High Water, Mean Low Water and the vegetation line, shoreline rates of change were calculated in Digital Shoreline Analysis System. Changes observed at both sites were primarily a product of location. Evidenced by foreshore and nearshore steepening, a relative sea level (RSL) reversal appears to have recently occurred at Machrihanish Bay, with isostatic uplift being outpaced by eustatic sea level rise. This has caused the system to cross a threshold in sediment supply and littoral drift. GIA remains to have an effect, however, through mitigating eustatic sea level rise. Contrastingly, Rhossili Bay displayed no changes induced by GIA. Rather, a long-term modification to the local wind climate and consequent change in incident wave direction was suggested to have facilitated a realignment of the coastline. Although RSL was shown not to be a driver of coastal change at Rhossili Bay, GIA will still have exacerbated the current rise in eustatic sea level. In order to avoid an over simplified explanation of the changes seen, historical wind data was also examined to determine its long-term role in coastal evolution. However, the results were shown to have limited explanatory power.

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