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  • Measured probability distributions of shoreline elevation, swash height (shoreline excursion length) and swash maxima and minima from a wide range of beach types are compared to theoretical probability distributions. The theoretical distributions are based on assumptions that the time series are weakly steady-state, ergodic and a linear random process. Despite the swash process being inherently non-linear, our results indicate that these assumptions are not overly restrictive with respect to modeling exceedence statistics in the upper tail of the probability distribution. The RMS-errors for a range of exceedence level statistics (50, 10, 5, 2, and 1 percent) were restricted to <10 cm (and often <5 cm) for all of the swash variables that were investigated. The results presented here provide the basis for further refinement of coastal inundation modeling as well as stochastic-type morphodynamic modeling of beach response to waves. Further work is required, however, to relate the parameters of swash probability distributions to wave conditions further offshore.

  • The Petrel Sub-basin Marine Environmental Survey GA-0335, (SOL5463) was undertaken by the RV Solander during May 2012 as part of the Commonwealth Government's National Low Emission Coal Initiative (NLECI). The survey was undertaken as a collaboration between the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and GA. The purpose was to acquire geophysical and biophysical data on shallow (less then 100m water depth) seabed environments within two targeted areas in the Petrel Sub-basin to support investigation for CO2 storage potential in these areas. This dataset comprises an interpreted geomorphic map. Interpreted local-scale geomorphic maps were produced for each survey area in the Petrel Sub-basin using multibeam bathymetry and backscatter grids at 2 m resolution and bathymetric derivatives (e.g. slope; 1-m contours). Five geomorphic units; bank, plain, ridge, terrace and valley, were identified and mapped using definitions suitable for interpretation at the local scale (nominally 1:10 000). Maps and polygons were manual digitised in ArcGIS using the spatial analyst and 3D analyst toolboxes.

  • Abstract: Compressional deformation is a common phase in the post-rift evolution of passive margins and rift systems. The central-west Western Australian margin, between Geraldton and Karratha, provides an excellent example of a strain gradient between inverting passive margin crust and adjacent continental crust. The distribution of contemporary seismicity in the region indicates a concentration of strain release within the Phanerozoic basins which diminishes eastward into the cratons. While few data exist to quantify uplift or slip rates, this gradient can be qualitatively demonstrated by tectonic landforms which indicate that the last century or so of seismicity is representative of patterns of Neogene and younger deformation. Pleistocene marine terraces on the western side of Cape Range indicate uplift rates of several tens of metres per million years, with similar deformation resulting in sub-aerial emergence of Miocene strata on Barrow Island and elsewhere. Northeast of Kalbarri near the eastern margin of the southern Carnarvon Basin, marine strandlines are displaced by a few tens of metres. A possible Pliocene age would indicate that uplift rates are an order of magnitude lower than further west. Relief production rates in the western Yilgarn Craton are lower still - numerous scarps (e.g. Mount Narryer) appear to relate individually to <10 m of displacement across Neogene strata. Quantitative analysis of time-averaged deformation preserved in the aforementioned landforms, including study of scarp length as a proxy for earthquake magnitude, has the potential to provide useful constraints on seismic hazard assessments in a region containing major population centres and nationally significant infrastructure.

  • The floodplain of the lower Balonne River is in the upper reaches of the Murray Darling Basin. The region has been extensively developed for agriculture, in particular irrigated cotton, and is highly productive. Multidisciplinary investigations to inform land management generated extensive sets of remotely sensed data including Landsat TM, airborne gamma-ray radiometrics, aerial photography, ASTER imagery, and digital elevation models. These datasets provided the basis for regolith and geomorphic mapping. The wealth of data has allowed characterisation of the lower Balonne River system which is typical of many of the dryland rivers of southern Queensland. The geomorphic map of the lower Balonne floodplain has 8 major units based on landform and geomorphic processes. Bedrock consists of the slightly deformed and extensively weathered marine Cretaceous Griman Creek Formation. Coincident with erosion and weathering, Paleogene quartz gravels were deposited and are now extensively cemented and preserved as remnants forming zones of inverted relief. Much of the present landscape consists of a series of juxtaposed depositional units that have infilled an incised valley system. The different depositional units show the palaeo-Balonne River migrating to the west. This is interpreted to be a result of tectonic depression and tilting to the west, causing avulsion and anastomosing of the palaeo-channels. The modern Balonne River system consists of a number of easily recognised segments. In the north, the modern channel is incised as a single channel. To the south the channel opens out onto an anastomosing plain with branching and reconnecting small-scale channels. Source bordering dunes, currently inactive, have also formed along the western and eastern sides of the modern river and are prominent in large dunes in the south along the present Moonie River. Their absence in older landscape elements points to increasing aridity over time in the river system.

  • Map showing the Geomorphic Features of the Australian Margin and Island Territories. The features were interpreted from Geoscience Australia's 250 m horizontal bathymetry model and other published data, and include those specified in the International Hydrographic Office definitions.

  • The coastal zone is arguably the most difficult geographical region to capture as data because of its dynamic nature. Yet, coastal geomorphology is fundamental data required in studies of the potential impacts of climate change. Anthropogenic and natural structural features are commonly mapped individually, with their inherent specific purposes and constraints, and subsequently overlain to provide map products. This coastal geomorphic mapping project centered on a major coastal metropolitan area between Lake Illawarra and Newcastle, NSW, has in contrast classified both anthropogenic and natural geomorphological features within the one dataset to improve inundation modelling. Desktop mapping was undertaken using the Australian National Coastal Geomorphic (Polygon) Classification being developed by Geoscience Australia and supported by the Department of Climate Change. Polygons were identified from 50cm and 1m aerial imagery. These data were utilized in parallel with previous maps including for example 1:25K Quaternary surface geology, acid sulphate soil risk maps as well as 1:100K bedrock geology polygon maps. Polygons were created to capture data from the inner shelf/subtidal zone to the 10 m contour and include fluvial environments because of the probability of marine inundation of freshwater zones. Field validation was done as each desktop mapping section was near completion. This map has innovatively incorporated anthropogenic structures as geomorphological features because we are concerned with the present and future geomorphic function rather than the past. Upon completion it will form part of the National Coastal Geomorphic Map of Australia, also being developed by Geoscience Australia and utilized in conjunction with Smartline.

  • The 2004 Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake and Indian Ocean Tsunami shattered the paradigm that guided our understanding of giant subduction zone earthquakes: that massive, magnitude 9+ earthquakes occur only in subduction zones experiencing rapid subduction of young oceanic lithosphere. Although this paradigm forms the basis of discussion of subduction zone earthquakes in earth sciences textbooks, the 2004 earthquake was the final blow in an accumulating body of evidence showing that it was simply an artefact of a sparse and biased dataset (Okal, 2008). This has led to the realization that the only factor known to limit the size of megathrust earthquakes is subduction zone length. This new appreciation of subduction zone earthquake potential has important implications for the southern Asia-Pacific region. This region is transected by many thousands of km of active subduction, including the Tonga-Kermadec, Sunda Arc, and the Makran Subduction zone along the northern margin of the Arabian Sea. Judging from length alone, all of these subduction zones are capable of hosting megathrust earthquakes of magnitude greater than 8.5, and most could host earthquakes as large as the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake (Mw=9.3). Such events are without historical precedent for many countries bordering the Indian and Pacific Oceans, many of which have large coastal populations immediately proximate to subduction zones. This talk will summarize the current state of knowledge, and lack thereof, of the tsunami hazard in the southern Asia-Pacific region. I will show that 'worst case' scenarios threaten many lives in large coastal communities, but that in most cases the uncertainty in these scenarios is close to 100%. Is the tsunami risk in SE Asia and the SW Pacific really this dire as the worst-case scenarios predict? The answer to this question relies on our ability to extend the record of tsunamis beyond the historical time frame using paleotsunami research.

  • Lord Howe Island in the southwest Pacific Ocean is the subaerial remnant of a Late Miocene hot-spot volcano. Erosion of the island has formed a shallow (20 - 120 m) sub-tropical carbonate shelf 24 km wide and 36 km long. On the mid shelf an extensive relict coral reef (165 km2) surrounds the island in water depths of 30-40 m. The relict reef comprises sand sheet, macroalgae and hardground habitats. Inboard of the relict reef a sandy basin (mean water depth 45 m) has thick sand deposits. Outboard of the relict reef is a relatively flat outer shelf (mean depth 60 m) with bedrock exposures and sandy habitat. Infauna species abundance and richness were similar for sediment samples collected on the outer shelf and relict reef features, while samples from the sandy basin had significantly lower infauna abundance and richness. The irregular shelf morphology appears to determine the distribution and character of sandy substrates and local oceanographic conditions, which in turn influence the distribution of different types of infauna communities.

  • This record is a review and synthesis of geological research undertaken along the northern margin of Australia. The record has been written in support of regional marine planning and provides fundamental baseline scientific information for the Northern Planning Area.