Pollen signatures of disturbance events
Research on lake sediment cores from Lake Paringa in south Westland has identified a numbers of disturbance events which record episodes of accelerated erosion in the catchment. These sediments provide the opportunity to examine whether the vegetation in West Coast catchments changes as a result of landsliding forced by high maginitude rainfall or seismic shaking and whether such a record is preserved in lake sediments. The research will involve learning to identify pollen from the South Westland flora, sampling the sediment from the ake cores, processing the samples to extract pollen and examining changes in the pollen assemblages that may record disturbance events. This project would suit a person undertaking a BSc(Hons) project who is willing to learn new techniques and come to grips with understanding relationships between geomorphological change and vegetation.
Decision making for developments associated with environmental hazards
This potential project is based on the observation that in a series of recent development proposals the Environment Court has apparently overruled regional authorities and argued that the risks lie with the dwelling occupant and/or property developer. This project will involve an analysis of recent resource consent decisions in Otago that have been appealed and overturned by the Environment Court and interviews with key informants. The project would suit an MA, MPlan or MAppSc student interested in exploring the interactions between natural event systems and human use systems in the context of the RMA.
Glacier behaviour in New Zealand at the end of the Pleistocene
Recent developments in remote sensing technologies including high resolution satellite imagery such as QUICKBIRD and airborne LIDAR data have revealed new insights into the detail and complexity of environmental processes that are embedded in landforms. This imagery has provided exciting new perspectives on large Late Pleistocene moraines that formed at the margins of glaciers that flowed from the Southern Alps at the end of the last ice age. This study will be a remotely sensed-led investigation of features that formed as glaciers overwhelmed older outwash deposits. The study will be based on geomorphological mapping and sedimentological analysis of landforms supported by Ground Penetrating radar and detailed surveying. The project would suit an MSc student interested in harnessing new technologies to understand how glaciers modify landscapes.