EE 544: Coastal Sedimentology

Instructors: Duncan FitzGerald ( and Zoe Hughes (

Course Overview:

Coastal Sedimentology is designed to teach the key concepts and processes of sedimentology through emersion in coastal sedimentary systems. By the end of the course students will be able to interpret (understand the formation of) present day and ancient depositional environments and coastal landforms. There will be some morning and evening lectures, but learning will be primarily achieved through a variety of field activities and firsthand exposure to diverse physical coastal settings. The highly variable nature of the New England coast and the Eastern Seaboard, in terms of bedrock and glacial histories, sediment supply, tidal range, wave energy, sea-level trends, storm exposures, and coastal landforms, make this an ideal region in which to study sedimentology, and the dynamic processes which drive the coastal landscape. The principles learned in this course can also be applied directly to many other non-marine depositional environments. Finally, global warming and the attendant accelerating sea-level rise and increased storminess are preferentially impacting the coastal zone causing frequent flooding, wide scale erosion and shoreline recession, and storm-induce damage and loss of infrastructure. The information gained in this course will aid the student’s ability to make informed decisions about managing coastal resources and the expenditure of taxpayer funds.