Geocoastal Group

The Geocoastal Group inherits the spirit of the Coastal Studies Unit that was inaugurated in The University of Sydney in 1976. This group was the birthplace of Coastal Morphodynamics only one year after.

Photo showing the northern end of Narrabeen Beach, NSW, Australia

The field, which now encompasses River, Coastal and Estuarine Morphodynamics, focuses on coupling between flow dynamics and morphological change involving sediment transport. Research in the Geocoastal Group spans a multiscale continuum from daily beach changes to Holocene and Quaternary coastal evolution. The research is undertaken through combined use of field investigations and numerical modeling and is the subject of many international conferences.

The emphasis on process interactions in coastal morphodynamics is a research focus shared with the ecocoastal group which, with the geocoastal group, comprise the majority of members in the University of Sydney's Institute of Marine Science. This emphasis is also shared with the control-systems research in the marine robotics group, and the coastal engineering and fluid dynamics group, and environmental interactions involved in coastal-marine toxicology.

Geocoastal research areas include:

Long-term Morphodynamics

Involves field and modelling research on the late Quaternary evolution and future impacts of climate change on coastal lowlands and continental shelves in SE Australia, Mediterranean and Adriatic Italy, NW USA, The Netherlands, Brazil, and atoll islands in the Indian, Pacific Oceans and on the Great Barrier Reef (Peter Cowell, Eleanor Bruce, , Mark Daley, Salette Figueiredo, Kate Thornborough and international partners)

Tidal Inlet Studies

Photo of Curl Curl tidal entrance when is closed

Includes research on tidal inlet dynamics and sediment transport patterns in Europe and SE Australia. Present focus is on flood-tide deltas including field and model investigations on erosion hazards of associated estuarine beaches (Ana Vila-Concejo, Tim Austin, Wenping Jiang, Andy Short, Michael Hughes).

Research also includes the evolution of flood-tide deltas and estuarine beaches throughout the late holocene and how this evolution impacts on shoreline stability through event scale morphodynamic processes (Ana Vila-Concejo, Peter Cowell). Research is currently being undertaken in Port Stephens.

Estuarine Pollution

Includes research on fine-sediment dispersal and sequestration of heavy-metals and constitutes the largest estuarine ecotoxicological research program of its kind outside USA. It involves identification of contaminant signatures for different estuaries, field investigation and modeling of contaminant dispersal processes for complex mixed/stratified estuaries, investigation of drainage-basin contaminant sources and remediation methods, with the overall program integrated through the first source-fate-effects model for estuarine heavy metals: that includes modules for vehicle emission deposition; metals runoff/loading; hydrodynamic contaminant dispersal; and filter feeder uptake (Gavin Birch, Stephen Gale, Brett Davis, Serena Lee, Marco Olmos).

Model grid Sydney Harbour; Researcher on boat

Bank Stability

Results from model on bank stability

Involves bank stability research in rivers, estuarine basins and bayhead deltas, including investigation of human and climatic impacts on vegetation, soil loss, characterisation of the mass collapse mechanisms and remediation strategies, and formation of non-deltaic estuarine beaches.

It includes a number of research techniques from fieldwork measurements to numerical modeling computations (Tom Hubble, Stephen Gale, Peter Cowell).

Beach Morphodynamics

Beach and surfzone morphology and processes, including wave and runup hydrodynamics and geographic variability, with field investigations on all coasts of Australia to determine representative attributes in variable wave and tide environments, and hazards and usage throughout all of Australia, with new field investigations for the same purpose starting in Northern Ireland (Andy Short, Michael Hughes, Ana Vila-Concejo).

Erosion Narrabeen Beach; POD Tiona Beach

Long-term margin evolution

Longterm evolution of coastal and continental-shelf sediment bodies and the effect of tectonic controls investigated modeling and field research that includes surface and subsurface characterisation of continental-shelf and estuarine sediments in southern and eastern Australia through acoustic imaging, seismic profiling and coring, in relation to mineral resources and extended continental-shelf sovereignty (Dietmar Müller, Peter Cowell, Elaine Baker, Ana Vila-Concejo, Eleanor Bruce, Michael Hughes)

Useful Links

Here are some links to international conferences related to the Geocoastal Group: