Coastal Lab - Adam Switzer

The coastal lab investigates the geological record of coastal hazards (storms and tsunamis) in Southeast Asia. The lab’s research group brought in from around the world currently studies beaches, coastlines and low-lying areas in ten different countries.

One of the driving aims of the research group is to make the coastlines of Asia safer places to live, work and play. Records of past coastal hazards events can help predict impacts and likelihood of similar future events. We also aim to be able to use the information on past coastal change to provide an idea of what might be expected in the future, and thereby to inform policy and planning decisions.

Globally, studies of the sedimentation and geomorphic effects of tsunami and storm surge have gained increasing popularity and recognition since the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 demonstrated the vulnerability of coastal communities the world over, and the 2011 Tohoku-Oki Tsunami reminded us that we can never be too prepared for such events.

Since its inception in 2010, the lab has made significant contributions to coastal change research around the world, has been involved with developing new approaches to reconstructing tsunami and hurricane hazards, and has made major contributions to improved planning and management of the human activities in the coastal environment.

Coastal Hazards
Meteorologists often describe Southeast Asia as the “Maritime Continent”, which underlies its susceptibility to coastal hazards. The rapid demographic growth in this region is a factor that aggravates the risk, as most of the new populations tend to settle on the shores where economic activity is concentrated. Hence coastal hazards are a crucial research field in the region.
Oceanographic and Inundation Modelling
Sedimentary records from historical and paleo-events are used to model storm surge or tsunami inundations in coastal areas. Such modelling is crucial for coastal hazard assessment and risk mitigation.
Sea Level History
Since the 19th century tide gauges measurements record sea-level changes and since 40 years satellites enabled a global and accurate sea-level record. However, researchers need sea-level estimates on a longer-term to validate climate and tectonic models and to infer the local effects of climate change on sea-level rise.
Environmental Change
The coastal lab is involved in the study of environmental change and coastal hazards all over Southeast Asia. Sedimentary records of the South China Sea coastline are analysed to develop an understanding of the geological, geomorphological, and climatic history of the region.

Assessment of the recurrence of typhoons, storms and tsunamis in the region, as well as its onshore and offshore geological evolution, are of crucial interest to the stakeholders, as the South China Sea littorals have one of the highest rates of infrastructure development in the world.


18 Jun 2021

Coastal communities face several hazards including tsunamis triggered by offshore earthquakes and volcano eruptions as well as storm surges generated during tropical storms.

Deposits left...


Latest Projects

We plan a reconstruction of late Quaternary environmental history of the Kallang basin, southern Singapore.

We propose using geomicrobiology to overcome the primary issue in documenting prehistorical coastal hazards which is the faint distinction between storm and tsunami deposited sediments.

We plan a comparative study to test the feasibility of reconstructing hydroclimate and temperature variability during the past (MIS 5e) and current (Holocene) interglacials from marine sediment cores recovered offshore from Singapore.



Merit Prize, 2020 College of Science Art Competition


2020 Micropalaeontology Image Competition Winner


AXA Fellowship


18 Jun 2021

Coastal communities face several hazards including tsunamis triggered by offshore earthquakes and volcano eruptions as well as storm surges generated during tropical storms.

Deposits left...

26 Mar 2021

Ostracods are aquatic crustaceans that range from 0.2 to 30 milimetres in size. Did you know that that these tiny creatures, also known as seed shrimp, can be used to indicate the pollution levels...

04 Feb 2021

Some are round, some are elongated, and their colours vary from off-white to shades of grey, but they all come from the seafloor of Singapore dating back to 10,000 years ago. Tiny shells, remnants...