Head of Department
BSc(Calgary) PhD(Br Col)
Undergraduate course advice, geophysics
- EAOS 111 Earth and Ocean Science (Semester 1)
- GEOL 112 Dynamic Earth: A New Zealand Perspective (Semester 2)
- GEOL 361 Geophysics of the Earth
- GEOL 363 Fossils, strata and hydrocarbon basins
- OCEN 323 Marine Geology and Geophysics
- Crustal controlled-source seismology – see Controlled-Source Seismology at the University of Otago
- Marine seismology
- Ice shelf seismology
- Gas hydrates
- New Zealand's Southern Basins
- Carbon sequestration in New Zealand's southern fiords
My research interests are in the application of geophysical analytical techniques to geological problems. Currently, my research ranges across the spectrum of controlled-source seismology: from high-resolution marine reflection seismology to lithosphere-scale refraction seismology. Some of my main focuses these days are the examination of gas hydrates on the continental shelf, the use of high-resolution seismic methods to image seafloor sedimentary units, seismic oceanography (imaging water masses within the ocean), seismic imaging of sub-ice-shelf geology, and the characterisation of fault structures on the South Island of New Zealand.
Here are a few more detailed examples of the work going on in my research group.
New Zealand has extensive gas hydrate accumulations on its continental margins – primarily on the Hikurangi Margin off the east coast of the North Island. Extensive data sets of petroleum industry (and other) data facilitate the characterisation of these ice-like compounds of natural gas (mostly methane) and water within the ocean floor sediments. In collaboration with researchers from New Zealand's GNS Science and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the University of Auckland, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany, and elsewhere, we are (1) investigating the distribution and concentration of this significant component of the world's carbon cycle, (2) examining the role that hydrates play in global climate change, and (3) evaluating the link between hydrate deposits and sea floor instabilities.
Seismic investigations of seafloor Quaternary geology
High-resolution seismic imaging of the seafloor provides a way to tie direct samples of Quaternary sediments to the depositional processes that deposited them. We make use of the University of Otago's research vessels and our own multi-channel seismic acquisition system to produce seismic data sets that can be used to image sedimentary strata and plan direct sampling endeavours such as grab sampling or coring.
The high-frequency seismic capabilities of the University of Otago's research vessel RV Polaris II are being used in Fiordland and elsewhere around the south coast of New Zealand to examine features within the upper 500 m of the seafloor that may be related to underlying hydrate accumulations.
We also use seismic reflection methods to characterise the seafloor under floating ice shelves. Over the last few years, we have been working on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica to image sub-ice shelf geology in order to develop drilling targets and their regional significance.
Geophysical investigations of fault geometry
Seismic methods can be used to constrain the position of faults at depth – primarily by imaging the geological layers that have been cut by a fault and interpreting how the fault has moved between them. In collaboration with structural geology colleagues, I am conducting research into the shallow structure of the Alpine Fault and other fault system on and around the South Island. In particular, we use the University of Otago's 48-channel land-based seismic system to collect reflection and refraction seismic datasets that characterise the sedimentary basins associated with the Alpine Fault, and the boomer seismic system on board RV Polaris II to image faults along the east coast of the South Island.
Jack Beagley (MSc) – Constraining late Quaternary sedimentary processes in Dusky Sound using seafloor seismic and sediment data (Co-supervised by Chris Moy and Gary Wilson)
Luke Carrington (MSc) – Structural integration of high-resolution seismic data from coastal Dunedin
Caitlin Hall (BSc Hons 2019, MSc ongoing) – Seismic and gravity modelling of the Kamb Ice Stream at Ross Ice Shelf Grounding Line, Antarctica
Will Oliver (MSc) – Seismic and gravity characterisation of Discovery Deep, Western Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica
Joanna Cooper (PhD 2021) – Investigating water-mass mixing across the Sub-tropical Front east of the South Island using seismic oceanography (Co-supervised by Associate Professor Ross Vennell, Marine Science)
Risa Permatasari (MSc 2021) – Numerical Modelling of Groundwater Flow in the South Dunedin using Gravity Data
Francesco Turco (PhD 2021) – Gas hydrate investigations on the Hikurangi Margin (Co-supervised by Dr Gareth Crutchley, GNS Science)
Jasper Hoffmann (PhD 2020) – Seabed pockmarks and subsurface fluid migration at multiple scales: Investigations using hydroacoustic and seismic data. (Co-supervised by Dr Gareth Crutchley, GNS Science)
Oliver Rees (MSc 2020) - Characterising the Quaternary stratigraphy of the paleovalley underlying Dunedin and Otago Harbour. (Co-supervised by Dr Christina Riesselman)
Justin Lo (MSc 2019) – Reprocessing and interpretation of 1987 Moutere Depression vibroseis data: structural geology and seismic hazard implications.
Dannielle Fourgere (MSc 2019) – Visco-elastic finite difference modelling of gas hydrate systems in the Pegasus Sub-basin
Catherine Sangster (MSc 2019) – Seismic characterisation of the coastal environment near Dunedin: Seismic hazard and climate change implications (Co-supervised by Professor Mark Stirling)
Andrew Robertson (MSc 2018) – Seismic refraction and reflection analysis of ice-streamer data from the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica.
Oliver Rees (BSc Hons 2018) – Integration of seismic and borehole data from Otago Harbour (Co-supervised by Dr Christina Riesselman)
Adrienn Lukacs (PhD 2018) – Geophysical characterisation of the Alpine Fault through and beneath the Whataroa Valley, Westland, New Zealand
Tim Lutter (MSc 2018) – Integrating new and existing gravity data to model the structures of the upper crust of the Dunedin volcano
Patrick Fletcher (MSc 2018)– Gas hydrates in the Pegasus Basin; BSC (Hons) 2016)
Douglas Fraser (PhD 2017) – Seismic characterisation of hydrate / shallow gas systems associated with active margin sediments in the Pegasus Sub-basin, Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand (Co-supervised by Dr. Ingo Pecher, University of Auckland)
Andy Holt (MSc 2016) – Seismic characterisation of offshore faulting along the South Otago coast.
Ted Perkins (MSc 2016) – Seismic imaging of the Auckland Island eastern shelf Quaternary channel system
Cameron Abbey (MSc 2016) - Seismic characterisation of submarine canyons off the Otago coast
Patrick Fletcher (BSc Hons 2016) - A seismic and sedimentological study of Otago Harbour
Dylan Baker (MSc 2016) - Gas hydrates in the Pegasus Basin, New Zealand
Mike Krause (MSc 2016) – High-resolution multi-channel seismic boomer imaging of Holocene sedimentation in Lake Ohau
Patrick Lepine (MSc 2016) – Seismic characterisation of the sedimentary fill of the Whataroa glacial valley in the vicinity of the Alpine Fault, Westland
Laurine van Haastrecht (MSc 2016) - Characterisation of the Ross Ice Shelf in the vicinity of the upcoming Hot Water Drill Site 2.
Ben Ross (MSc in progress) – Glacial processes on the eastern fiords of the Auckland Islands (Co-supervised by Prof. Gary Wilson)
Jess Hillman (PhD 2015) - Investigation of seafloor depression formation on the Chatham Rise, New Zealand to better understand climate-driven methane release from gas hydrates
Christine McLachlan (MSc 2015) – Characterisation of the Saunders Ridges, Possible Otago Shelf transgressive beach ridges (Co-supervised by Prof. Gary Wilson)
James Ashley (MSc – in progress 2015) – New Zealand surface heat flow and its tectonic implications (Co-supervised by Dr. Rob Funnell, GNS Science).
Erin Dlabola (MSc 2014) – Understanding Last Glacial Maximum sediment accumulations in the New Zealand fiords from gravity coring and seismic data (Co-supervised by Prof. Gary Wilson)
Tim Lennon (MSc 2014)– Geophysical exploration offshore Stewart Island (sponsored by GeoSphere Ltd. through a TEC Enterprise Scholarship.)
Callum Bruce (MSc 2013) – Seismic imaging of natural gas occurrences and migration pathways in the seafloor of the Reinga Basin, west of Northland.
Betina Flemming (BSc Hons 2012) – Characterisation of the modern sand wedge on the South Otago shelf (Co-supervised by Dr. Chris Moy).
Matthew Smillie (MSc 2012) - Seismic oceanographical imaging of the ocean southeast of NZ.
Daniel Jones (MSc 2012) – Geophysical characterisation of the Foulden Hills Maar, Central Otago, New Zealand (Co-supervised by Prof. Gary Wilson).
Jeremy Kilner (MSc in progress)- Seismic imaging of eastern Otago active fault structures (Co-supervised by Prof. Richard Norris.)
Paul Viskovic (MSc 2011) - Fluid flux through the seafloor of the Great South Basin (sponsored by OMV New Zealand through a TEC Enterprise Scholarship.)
Callum Bruce (BSc Hons 2010) – Shallow marine seismic characterisation of coast-parallel faulting south of Dunedin.
Amy Shears (MSc – EnvSci 2010) - Characterisation of the sediment budget of Otago Harbour (Co-supervised by Dr. Abby Smith, Marine Science)
Gareth Crutchley (PhD 2009) - Gas hydrate characterisation on the Hikurangi Continental Margin (Co-supervised by Dr. Ingo Pecher, GNS Science).
Miko Fohrmann (PhD 2009) - Examination of marine seismic reflection data for the occurrence and distribution of gas hydrates on the continental margins of New Zealand (Co-supervised by Dr. Ingo Pecher, GNS Science)
Matt Hill (MSc 2007) - Geophysical and Geomorphological mapping of present and past landscapes, Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes. (Co-supervised by Prof. Gary Wilson.)
Kim Senger (BSc Hons 2006) - Seismic interpretation of the Canterbury slope to identify links between gas hydrate occurrences and slope stability.
Lisa Johnston (MSc 2006) - McMurdo Ice Shelf Seismic Reflection Experiment, Antarctica. (Co-supervised by Dr. Gary Wilson.)
Hamish Blakemore (MSc 2006) - Shallow seismic investigation of the Oreti River aquifer, Southland.
Anna Leslie (MSc 2006) - Seismic characterisation of mineralisation at the Oceana Gold Ltd Gold Mine at Macraes, Otago.
Oliver, W., Gorman, A., Bowman, H., Black, J., & Tankersley, M. (2023). Discovery Deep, Antarctica, characterised by seismic and gravity surveys. Proceedings of the New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Science Conference (NZAASC): Latitudes of Change. (pp. 98). Retrieved from https://www.nzaasc.org
Gorman, A., Bowman, H., Black, J., Oliver, W., & Tankersley, M. (2023). Speeding up seismic reflection surveying of the seafloor below the Ross Ice Shelf with a towed streamer and surface detonations. Proceedings of the New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Science Conference (NZAASC): Latitudes of Change. (pp. 90). Retrieved from https://www.nzaasc.org
Warnke, F., Pecher, I. A., Hillman, J. I. T., Davy, B., Woelz, S., Gorman, A. R., & Strachan, L. J. (2023). Pseudo-3D cubes from densely spaced subbottom profiles via projection onto convex sets interpolation: An open-source workflow applied to a pockmark field. Geophysics, 88(6), F51-F69. doi: 10.1190/geo2023-0171.1
Beagley, J. E., Gorman, A. R., Moy, C. M., & Wilson, G. S. (2023). Synthesis of geophysical and sediment core data enhances understanding of blue carbon in Tamatea/Dusky Sound and leads to insights on the paleoenvironment evolution of the fjord. Proceedings of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society (NZMSS) Annual Meeting. (pp. 22). [Abstract]
Chorley, H., Levy, R., Naish, T., Lewis, A., Cox, S., Hemming, S., Ohneiser, C., Gorman, A., … Anderson, J., Dagg, B., & Lurcock, P. (2023). East Antarctic Ice Sheet variability during the middle Miocene Climate Transition captured in drill cores from the Friis Hills, Transantarctic Mountains. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 135(5-6), 1503-1529. doi: 10.1130/b36531.1