Fraser Island World Heritage Area (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/630) and the Cooloola Coast, on the south-east Queensland coast, form the terminus of the longest downdrift sand system on the planet. Giant podzols (extending to 25 m depth) have formed over the long weathering history of the sand dunes in this system, containing buried and truncated soil profiles as a result of periods of dune erosion and building in response to climate change and sea level fluctuations. These dunefields therefore contain one of the best archives on environmental change in the Australian sub-tropics.
Two PhD positions are being offered as part of a larger ARC funded project, based at Flinders University.
These are the available projects:
(1) Utilising a detailed GIS analyses of time-series vertical aerial photographs, lidar and high resolution geomorphological mapping, and stratigraphic and sedimentological data , this study will explore recent (last 100 years) and Quaternary development of the Fraser Island dunefield. The study will examine interdecadal changes in climate variables that control rainfall, storminess, and winds and determine the timing and origin of the last coastal dunefield transgression (or active phase) that ended by the early 1980’s when vegetation cover began to rapidly increase on Fraser Island. We expect that this detailed information obtained from the recent record will contribute to the study of palaeo-climate shifts and the impacts on coastal dunefields.
(2) The study will also examine longer term (Holocene to Quaternary) age structure, evolution, dynamics and sea level history of the dunefield system combining elements of geomorphology, geology, stratigraphy and sedimentology or similar fields. This project will be based on core stratigraphical data as well as termoluminescence and radiocarbon dating of dune sequences.