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Environmental geology and geochemistry

Investigating Australian waterways and coastal hazards
Geological and geochemical research in marine, estuarine and riverine environments.

Our aims

Our research concentrates on examining marine and estuarine environments, river-bank stability and sediment dynamics.

The impact of this research can lead to a better understanding of our waterways, pollution, coastal  hazards and the consequences for humans and the natural environment.

Our research

University academics: Associate Professor Tom Hubble

External collaborators: Associate Professor Hannah Power (University of Newcastle, Australia); Dr Scott Nichol, (Geoscience Australia, Canberra); Dr Mike Kinsela (NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment).

This project is led by Associate Professor Tom Hubble and aims to identify past and potential submarine landslide sites on the eastern Australian continental margin. So far, the studies have examined the distribution and characteristics of about 250 large submarine landslide scars that are present offshore the South-Eastern Australian seaboard between Batemans Bay and Fraser Island.

The work is currently focussed on characterisation of the landslide scar morphology and way the landslide debris moves down the continental slope and into the Tasman Sea basin. These results will be used to determine the size of past landslides; how and why they occur; how often they have occurred; and their potential to generate tsunami large enough to inundate the coast and threaten the safety of our coastal communities and towns.

University academics: Associate Professor Tom Hubble

External collaborator: Associate Professor Hannah Power ( University of Newcastle, Australia)

Research led by Associate Professor Tom Hubble has included several studies into the causes of river bank failure, and stream erosion on the Hawkesbury-Nepean and lower Murray River systems. This work established a causal link between riverside tree clearing and large-scale bank failure on eastern Australia’s coastal rivers.

River banks covered with a healthy riverside forest are more resistant to bank-failure and stream erosion during floods than banks whose forests have been removed. This finding has been widely applied in the restoration of riverside environments both in Australia and overseas.

Other work has established the links between lowered river levels, scour-holes, laminated muds and the unexpected bank failures that occurred on the lower Murray River in 2010 and 2011 during the peak of the Millennium Drought.

Detailed examination of the laminated mud deposits we discovered beneath the Lower Murray Gorge floodplains may provide a long-term record of this river’s flow stretching back several thousand years.