Sue Dawson

Dr Sue Dawson


  • Email:
  • Geography, School of Social Sciences, University of Dundee, Perth Rd, Dundee, DD1 4HN


Research Interests

My research expertise lies in the areas of Holocene sea-level change, coastal and climate change, tsunami sedimentation and diatom biostratigraphy. Present research activities include projects on Holocene relative sea level changes and tsunamis in the Maldives archipelago, Sweden, Scotland and Greenland. In Scotland, ongoing projects include the reconstruction of former sea level changes and extreme flooding events on the Isle of Skye and the Orkney Isles. In addition to research interests on a Holocene timescale, I am working on recent environmental changes with a study on the sedimentology and geomorphology of recent storm deposits in the Outer Hebrides as well as a study looking at changing sedimentation patterns and hydrodynamics in estuaries on the west coast of the Outer Hebrides. A study of tsunami sedimentation in the Maldives as a result of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami is also a key theme.

Current Research Interests

  • Holocene relative sea level changes in Scotland (peripheral islands), Greenland, Sweden, Maldives
  • Coastal and climate changes in Scotland (Outer Hebrides, N Scotland, Northern Isles)
  • Relative sea level change, coastal evolution and coastal archaeology in Scottish islands
  • Diatom biostratigraphy and sedimentology of tsunami and storm deposits (modern, historical and pre-historic events)
  • Modern estuarine hydrodynamics (Outer Hebrides) using 210Pb and 137Cs to determine sedimentation rates


Academic Background

1999 PhD awarded 1999. Centre for Quaternary Science, Geography, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Coventry University 

Flandrian Relative Sea Level Changes in Northern Scotland, Coventry University
1989 BSc (Hons) Geography, Department of Geography, Coventry Final Year Honours Project: Glacial moulded-bedrock: an analysis of p-forms, Isle of Mull, Scotland


2009 - Lecturer in Physical Geography, Geography Department, University of Dundee
2007 - 2008 Teaching Fellow, Geography, University of Dundee, Dundee
2002-date Research Consultant in Coastal and Climate Change
2004-date Hon Research Fellow, Aberdeen Institute of Coastal Science, University of Aberdeen
1998-2002 PDRA, Centre for Quaternary Science, Coventry University
1999 PDRA, Palaeogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm University, Sweden
1993-1996 Research Assistant, Centre for Quaternary Science, Coventry University

Professional Memberships

  • British Society for Geomorphology
  • Quaternary Research Association
  • European Geophysical Union
  • Fellow Royal Geographical Society

Professional Roles

  • Member Marine & Maritime Panel (Scottish Archaeological Research Framework)

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Bondevik, S., Dawson, S., Dawson, A.G., Mangerud, J. and Øystein Lohne. 2005. A record of three tsunami events in the Shetland Islands during the last 8000 cal. Years. Quaternary Science Reviews, (Quaternary Land Ocean Correlation) 24, 1757-1775.

Long, A.J., Smith, D.E., Morner, N.A. & Dawson, S. 2005. Final Report of the INQUA Shorelines Subcommission on Western Europe. Journal of Coastal Research, 43-51.

Jordan, J.T., Dawson, S. and Dawson, A.G. (2006). Late Holocene coastal dune evolution, Lewis and Harris, Scottish Outer Hebrides. In: Ritchie, W. and Angus, S. (eds) Studies in Machair Evolution 4, 61-73. Abderdeen University press, Aberdeen.

Long, A. J., Roberts, D. H. and Dawson, S. (2006). Early Holocene History of the West Greenland Ice Sheet and the GH-8.2 event. Quaternary Science Reviews, 25, 904-922.

Wickham-Jones CR & Dawson S. 2006. The scope of Strategic Environmental Assessment of Sea Area SEA7 with regard to prehistoric and early historic archaeological remains. Department of Trade and Industry.

Dawson S and Wickham-Jones C R. 2007. Sea Level Change and the Prehistory of Orkney, Antiquity, 81, 312.

Dawson A G, Dawson S and Ritchie, W. 2007. Historical climatology and coastal change associated with the 'Great Storm' of January 2005, South Uist and Benbecula, Scottish Outer Hebrides, Scottish Geographical Journal, 123, 2, 135-149.

Dawson, S. 2007. Diatom biostratigraphy of tsunami deposits: an examination of deposits from the 1998 Papua New Guinea Tsunami. Sedimentary Geology, 200, 328-335.

Long, A J, Roberts, D H, Simpson, M J R, Dawson, S, Milne, G A and Huybrechts, P. 2008. Late Weichselian relative sea-level changes and ice sheet history in southeast Greenland. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 28, 8-18.

Mörner, N A, Laborel, J and Dawson, S. 2008. Submarine "sandstorms" and tsunami events in the Indian Ocean. Journal of Coastal Research, 24, 6, 1608-1611.