Eimile McSorley


PhD Geological Engineering

ESB 5033

The aim of my PhD project is to reconstruct sediment fluxes through the Holocene, specifically targeting the rates, timescales and shape of past changes in paraglacial sediment supply.

In chapter 2 of their 2019 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted the problem of retreating glaciers increasing landslide and flooding hazards. However, due to the interconnectivity of processes involved and because only a few well-constrained, high-resolution field case studies exist, quantitative models for hazard prediction and risk management in deglaciating landscapes have remained elusive. This is a critical problem as modern climate change drives world-wide glacial retreat, placing glacial environments into disequilibrium and opening up new rivers and landscapes to the risks posed by deglaciation. 

My research will targeted alluvial fan deposits, that are dominated by debris flows, in south-west British Columbia. Alluvial/debris fans are ideal targets, because coupled catchment-fan systems are small and self-contained systems that are tractable to study. They are volumetrically closed, meaning a time series of past deposition can be established. They also have fast erosion rates and rapid source-to-sink transport of sediment, promoting sensitivity to environmental changes and providing a detailed depositional archive. I will investigate both the timescales and magnitudes of paraglacial sediment depletion for these targeted sites from the last local glacial maximum to the present day. These data will be used to test and calibrate theoretical models of paraglacial sediment supply, and to better-understand the impacts of deglaciation on landscape and associated hazards in British Columbia/the Pacific Northwest, which are understudied yet critically-important.

Present: Ph.D. Student in Geological Engineering, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2017-2021: Senior Geophysical Field Technician at Xradar BC Inc, Burnaby, BC

2013-2017: M.Sci. in Geophysics, University of Southampton, UK.

2015-2016: Study abroad in Bergen, Norway.