A coral boulder on Green Island, Taiwan.  The largest boulder in my project is over 10 times bigger than this (too busy to pose there)!
A coral boulder on Green Island, Taiwan. The largest boulder in my project is over 10 times bigger than this (too busy to pose there)!

I love playing with sand. With an interest in knowing more about natural hazards, I went to the coasts to look for storm and tsunami deposits from layers of sandy sediments for my M.Phil. project. After finishing that project, I wanted to do something BIGGER for my PhD. What’s bigger than sand? Boulder!


That was how I started studying boulders for interpreting extreme wave events. I use the characteristics of wave-emplaced coastal boulders (e.g. size, distribution) to estimate the strength of waves and reconstruct the history of storms and/or tsunamis at a few islands in the Asia-Pacific area. My field sites include a beautiful small atoll in French Polynesia, the southern shore of Viti Levu of Fiji, and Ludao (Green Island) of Taiwan.


I also love traveling and eating.







PhD (Geography), National University of Singapore (Jan 2016).


Dissertation title: Assessing coastal hazards with high-energy wave-deposited boulders: Case studies from three tropical pacific islands


M.Phil. (Earth Sciences), The University of Hong Kong, 2008-2010.  


Thesis title: Comparing historical and geological records of catastrophic washover events at Qing’ao, Nan’ao Island, Southeastern China.


B.Sc.(Hons) (Earth Sciences), The University of Hong Kong, 2005-2008.


Work experience

  • Museum Assistant in Stephen Hui Geological Museum, Hong Kong (2010)- I managed the mineral, rock and fossil collections and guided museum tours 
  • Student Research Assistant (2008)- trained in OSL dating
  • I once worked part-time in a coffee chain (2005)- trained in making latte, cappuccino, mocha etc. I probably ate and drank too much so the shop closed down soon after I started working…




Yap, W., Lee, Y., Gouramanis, C., Switzer, A.D., Yu, F., Lau, A.Y.A., Terry, J.P. (in press) A historical typhoon database for the southern and eastern Chinese coastal regions, 1951 to 2012, Ocean & Coastal Management. 


Lau, A.Y.A., Terry, J.P., Switzer, A.D. and Pile, J. (2015) Advantages of beachrock slabs for interpreting high-­energy wave transport: Evidence from Ludao Island in south eastern Taiwan, Geomorphology 228: 263-274.  


Lau, A.Y.A., Etienne, S., Terry, J.P., Lee, Y. and Switzer, A.D. (2014) A preliminary study of the distribution, sizes and orientations of large reef-top coral boulders deposited by extreme waves at Makemo Atoll, French Polynesia, in Green, A.N. and Cooper, J.A.G. (eds.), Proceedings of the 13th International Coastal Symposium (Durban, South Africa), Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 70: 272-277.


Terry, J.P., Lau, A.Y.A. and Etienne, S. (2013) Reef-Platform Coral Boulders: Evidence for High-Energy Marine Inundation Events on Tropical Coastlines. Singapore: Springer, 105p.


Yu, F., Switzer, A.D., Lau, A.Y.A., Yeung, H.Y.E., Chik, S.W., Chiu, H.C., Huang, Z. and Pile, J. (2013) A comparison of the post-storm recovery of two sandy beaches from Hong Kong Island, southern China, Quaternary International 304: 163-175.


Lee, Y., Yu, F., Switzer, A.D., Gouramanis, C., Lau, A.Y.A. and Terry, J.P. (2012) Developing a Historical Typhoon Database for the Southeastern Chinese Coastal Provinces, 1951-2010, in: 1st Annual International Conference on Geological & Earth Sciences, Singapore, 3-4 December 2012.


Lau, A.Y.A., Switzer, A.D., Dominey-Howes, D., Aitchison, J.C. and Zong, Y. (2010) Written records of historical tsunamis in the northeastern South China Sea – challenges associated with developing a new integrated database, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 10: 1793-1806.