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Working group Geoarchaeology, Coastal Geomor-phology and Geochronology (Prof. Helmut Brückner)

The main research objectives of the working group are related to coastal morphodynamics. Based on investigations on coastal geomorphology and coastal sedimentary archives, we aim at reconstructing the natural evolution of coastlines throughout the last millennia in numerous projects (coastal geomorphology & quaternary sciences). Particular emphasis is also laid on human-environment interactions, particularly at the coast but also in terrestrial environments (geoarchaeology & coastal hazards). Sedimentological and geochemical analyses are carried out in the Laboratory for Physical Geography (click here for the homepage of the lab) of the Institute of Geography, which is providing equipment for a wide range of analyses and methods. In addition, the working group operates the Cologne Luminescence Lab (click here for the homepage of the CLL), which is mainly focusing on the application and development of luminescence dating techniques. Further research concentrates on establishing chronologies of Pleistocene river terraces along the Moselle and Meuse using cosmogenic nuclides (geochronology). Research areas include the coasts of the Mediterranean (Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Italy), the Black Sea (Russia, Ukraine, Georgia), the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Qatar), Southeast Asia and Australia (Thailand, Philippines, northern Western Australia, Myanmar) and the Caribbean (Bonaire).

Coastal Geomorphology

A main research focus lies on coastal geomorphology and coastal geomorphdynamics worldwide, including historical, Holocene and Pleistocene time scales. Research objectives usually comprise reconstructions of the coastal evolution, deciphering the significance of different morphodynamic processes, and understanding the impact of sea-level fluctuation


The reconstruction of past landscapes particularly in the periphery of ancient coastal settlements represents a particular focus of the working group, usually in close cooperation with and in the context of archaeological surveys and excavations. In many cases, these interdisciplinary studies aim at understanding the influence of natural coastal and palaeoenvironmental changes on the development of these settlements (e.g., the siltation of ancient harbour sites) and deciphering the human impact on geomorphodynamics and landscape evolution (e.g., increased soil erosion). The working group participates in the CRC 806 „Our Way to Europe“ (for the homepage of the CRC 806 click here).


Deciphering the dynamics of landscape evolution on different time scales requires the application of geochronological methods. Different dating techniques have the potential to determine the time of sediment deposition and the evolution of landforms. A particular focus of the working group is the application and development of luminescence dating techniques (Cologne Luminescence Lab). In addition to the research in coastal environments, since 2016 the CLL investigates the development of dating approaches that aim at extending the dating limit of luminescence techniques within the CRC 1211 "Evolution at the Dry Limit" (for the homepage of the CRC 1211 click here). Likewise, investigations on the chronology of Pleistocene river terraces using cosmogenic nuclides are carried out along the Moselle and Meuse (click here for further information).

Coastal Hazards

Further ongoing research concentrates on coastal hazards, particularly tsunamis and tropical cyclones. Research projects include investigations on the impact of modern tsunamis and storms (e.g., Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004, Typhoon Haiyan 2013) on the coastal geomorphology and sedimentology, as well as on frequency/magnitude patterns of these events based on geological records.