Projects

Undersea landslides of north-eastern Australia

Undersea, or submarine, landslides are common features on steep continental margins and the sides of oceanic islands around the world. Submarine slope failure is a natural hazard process that dramatically shapes the seafloor environment and transfers large quantities of sediment from the shelf into the deep basins. They can be triggered by different mechanisms and are important to study due to their ability to generate large and catastrophic tsunamis.

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Submarine canyons of north-eastern Australia

Submarine canyons are among the largest undersea landscape features on Earth, and act as pathways for most of the terrigenous and carbonate sediment transported from the continents to the deep-sea. Canyons are typically associated with large submarine fans and gravity flows at their far reaches, showing their importance as conduits for sediment transport. On the north-eastern Australia continental slope, numerous submarine canyons cut into the Great Barrier Reef margin which terminate in the deep troughs and basins bordering the margin.

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Tasmantid Seamounts of Australia

The ocean floor is the Earth’s last great frontier, full of great mountain ranges and deep chasms that are largely unexplored. Just 150-600 km east of the Australian mainland is a 2000 km long chain of submerged volcanoes that rise over 4000 m above the seafloor - nearly twice the height of the highest mountain on the mainland. These undersea mountains, the Tasmantid Seamounts, are extinct volcanoes formed from around 40 to 6 million years ago above a mantle hotspot, similar to the Hawaiian Islands.

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Drowned shelf edge reefs in the Great Barrier Reef

Drowned (or submerged) reefs are coral reefs that grew during lower sea-levels, and they now lie in depths greater than those typically associated with the vigorous growth of modern coral reefs. Studies around the world have found that drowned reefs are very important as habitats for mesophotic (twilight zone) marine life, and as records of environmental change as the corals that grew earlier are now preserved in the limestone rock of the drowned reefs.

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High-resolution depth model for the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea

There is a critical lack of information about the location and extent of deep-water ecosystems and seabed habitats for about a third of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area that lies deeper than 200 m. In addition much of the inter-reef (between reefs) seabed shallower than 100 m on the Great Barrier Reef shelf, and for many of the shallow coral reefs themselves, have never been adequately mapped using modern echosounder techniques.

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