Ciara Fleming



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Commencing my university education in Trinity College Dublin, I entered into the Natural Sciences degree programme. The first two years of the undergraduate degree programme laid foundations in geography, geology, biology and mathematics. Thereafter I specialised in geology and graduated in 2010. Since then, my involvement in earth science research has included working as a Core Analysis Technical Assistant at University College Dublin. Subsequently, I completed an MSc in GIS and Remote Sensing at Maynooth University. I have returned to the School of Geography at UCD, where I am now a PhD candidate, researching palaeoflood sedimentary archives.


School of Geography, University College Dublin


Dr. Jonathan Turner (UCD) and Dr. Mary Bourke (TCD)

PhD research:

The aim of this project is to explore the landscape response to extreme precipitation events. Flooding is a natural response of rivers to increased precipitation. Historical patterns of human settlement along riverbanks and floodplains have continued into the present-day resulting in the formation of urban centres in these flood-prone areas. The intersection of populations with this natural phenomenon creates a flooding hazard with adverse societal and economic implications. The introduction of the EU Floods Directive (European Community, 2007) has produced renewed interest and activity from policymakers to mitigate against future flooding. However, the traditional approach to flood risk is adopted whereby extreme flood magnitudes are derived using extrapolation of hydrometric datasets. These systematic gauged records are rarely more than 60 years in length and often much shorter. Often they do not capture the high magnitude, low frequency or extreme flooding events which cause the most damage.

The challenge to policymakers and scientists assessing future flood risk is the lack of baseline scientific information regarding the frequency and magnitude of flooding events in fluvial systems. Mitigation strategies and management of flood hazards have been hampered by this absence of knowledge and palaeoflood hydrology can make a direct contribution in this regard.

In the context of current climatic conditions, those palaeofloods which are of most relevance to society occurred at a time of similar climatic conditions, generally the last 10,000 years, encompassed within the Holocene time period. Past geomorphic change can be detected in sediment sinks, through the investigation of sediment archives. Stacked sediment records from lakes, floodplains and abandoned channels contain evidence of past flooding events.

This study will examine how the geomorphic effects of flooding events vary both temporally and spatially in an Irish river catchment throughout the Holocene period. Spatial variation of river response to flooding will be investigated by targeting distinct zones within the fluvial system. In particular this study examines the geomorphic effects of extreme flooding events. Developing a wider picture of extreme events offers potential for exploring concepts of river channel and landscape recovery and response to extreme events. The timing of these events will be considered in the context of climate and land-use change, and will have direct relevance for contextualising present-day flood events.


2014 – present: Doctor of Philosophy (Human Sciences), major in Geography (University College Dublin)

2013 – 2014: MSc Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing, Maynooth University

2006 – 2010: BA (Mod) Geology, Trinity College Dublin

Work experience:

2014 – present: Postgraduate Tutor and Demonstrator, School of Geography, UCD

2014 – present: GIS Technical Assistant, The Icon Group

2012 – 2013: Core Analysis Technical Assistant, School of Geography, UCD

Teaching experience:

First Year:

  • Geographical Perspectives: Census geography, population, conflict & crisis, vacant land.
  • Earth Systems: Systems Theory, Plate Tectonics & the Rock Cycle; natural hazards & risk management; climate change; geomorphic systems.
  • People, Places, Regions: global migration; globalised commodity chains.
  • Geography of Cities: medieval and renaissance cities
  • Environmental Change & Policy: climate change; hydraulic fracking; sustainability.

Second Year:

  • Geographical Research Techniques: information skills & literacy; documentary sources & analysis; cartography & mapping; qualitative and quantitative research techniques; fieldwork.

Third Year:

  • Techniques and Fieldwork in Geomorphology: field survey methods; sediment sampling; augering; logging; particle size analysis; data reduction and analysis.

Professional activities:

Postgraduate representative: Irish Geomorphology Group

Member: Irish Quaternary Association

Member: Irish Geological Association


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