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Contact detailsGaryWilson

Academic qualifications

BSc BMus PhD(Well)

National and international responsibilities

  • Vice President - Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
  • Chair – NZ Royal Society Committee on Antarctic Sciences
  • Trustee – Sir Peter Blake Trust
  • Editor in Chief – Geological Oceanography - Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, MDPI Basel Switzerland
  • Councillor – Australian Institute for Nuclear Science and Engineering
  • Physical Science Lead – NZ Antarctic Science Platform
  • Director – Otago Southern Ocean Marine Institute

Research interests

  • Paleoceanography
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Marine Geology & Geophysics
  • Paleomagnetism
  • Physical properties of sediment cores

My research interests lie in the general area of marine geology and the marine geological record of ocean and climate change. Specific focuses of my research include Antarctica's role in the evolving global ocean and climate system, New Zealand ocean and climate response to changing forcing agents (both internal such as atmospheric carbon dioxide and ocean current reorganisation, and external such as changes in the earth's orbital parameters), records of change in marine sediment cores, and the application of paleomagnetic and physical properties methods to dating and correlation and as proxies for environmental change.

Research facilities

  • RV Polaris II
  • Otago Paleomagnetic Research Facility
  • Otago Analytical Core Facility and Repository

Research projects

Oceanography and Climatology of the Subtropical Front

Investigating the evolution of the northern boundary of southern ocean as the world warms and cools and its affect on southern ocean species, climates and the rates of carbon dioxide sequestration. Research undertaken from the RV Polaris in the Auckland and Campbell islands, New Zealand and other vessels in Macquarie Island, Southern Chile, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.

Discovery 100

DISCOVERY100 is a visionary project designed to help understand climate change at a local scale in a key junction of the global climate system by measuring changing climates, oceans and terrestrial environments. Over the initial 5 years of the project the observing system on South Georgia will be established as a sentinel for climate change and it will deliver science to understand how the planet works and for validation of empirical models that provide predictive capacity of the global impacts of climate change.

Antarctic Ice Sheet History

Investigating the response, inertia and vulnerability of Antarctic Ice Sheets and Ice Shelves to warming oceans and climates. Research from the oceanographic evolution across the Antarctic Margin to ice sheet history from moraines, nunataks and sub ice drill cores. Geophysical surveys from ice shelves and sea ice to map sedimentary basins and decipher their origin.

Fiord Circulation and Sedimentology

Fiords are a very unique environment, they provide very significant links between climate and ocean processes with thick sedimentary records accumulating in over-deepened coastal environments. They are significant carbon sinks and provide a wide range of proxies for paleoceanography and paleoclimatology.

Paleomagnetism, Environmental Magnetism and Physical Properties

One of the most important parameters in understanding the evolution of global processes is high-resolution time series of biogeochemical cycles. We use magnetic polarity stratigraphy, and time series analysis of physical and magnetic properties to attribute changes in environments to global and regional processes.

Marine Geophysics

Mapping sub-sea floor to determine geological history from sedimentary basins from lithospheric flexure basins to passive margin sequences using gravity and seismic strategraphy.

Permafrost Processes

The record of terrestrial Antarctic climate is elusive. Lake sediments provide a recent - Holocene record, but even then the stand tools used to interpret temperature and other climate parameters (such as pollen) are unavailable due to the long duration harsh climate. We are turning to novel tools such as long-lived microbial populations in the permanently frozen ground to decipher climate history. Permafrost can be long lived (up to 10+ million years) and chronology of old surfaces and horizons is available from cosmogenic exposure dating.

Postgraduate students

  • Jacob Anderson – Determining Antarctica's terrestrial climate history from microbial populations in permafrost
  • Sally Carson – Turning the tide of Citizen Science: From data donors to critical questioners
  • Cara Lembo - Environmental change during early Holocene Fiordland
  • Olivia Truax - A paleomagnetic, geochemical, and diatom based record of Holocene paleoclimate evolution from Robertson Bay, Antarctica

Recent publications with graduate students

Ohneiser, C., Wilson, G.S., 2018. Eccentricity-Paced Southern Hemisphere Glacial-Interglacial Cyclicity Preceding the Middle Miocene Climatic Transition. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, vol. 33, 795-806.

Jones, D.A., Wilson, G.S., Gorman, A.R., Fox, B.R.S., Lee, D.E., Kaulfuss, U., 2017. A drill-hole calibrated geophysical characterisation of the 23 Ma Foulden Maar stratigraphic sequence, Otago, New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, vol. 60, 465-477.

Fox, B.R.S., Wilson, G.S., Lee, D.E., 2016. A unique annually laminated maar lake sediment record shows orbital control of Southern Hemisphere mid-latitude Southern Hemisphere across the Oligocene-Miocene Boundary. Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 128, 609-628.

Hinojosa, J.L., Moy, C.M., Prior, C.A., Eglinton, T.I., McIntyre, C.P., Stirling, C.H., Wilson, G.S., 2015. Investigating the influence of regional climate and oceanography on marine radiocarbon reservoir ages in southwest New Zealand. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, vol. 167, 526-539.

Tapia, C.A., Wilson, G.S., Ishman, S.E., Wilke, H.G., Wartho, J-A., Winter, D., Martınez-Pardo, R., 2015. An integrated sequence stratigraphic and chronostratigraphic analysis of the Pliocene, Tiburon Basin succession, Mejillones Peninsula, Chile. Global and Planetary Change, vol. 131, 124-147.

Dlabola, E., Wilson, G.S., Gorman, A.R., Riesselman, C.R., Moy, C.M., 2015. A post-glacial sea level curve from Fiordland, New Zealand: evidence for an Antarctic melt-water source. Global and Planetary Change, vol. 131, 104-114.

Nelson, F.E., Wilson, G.S., Neil, H.L., 2013. Marine magnetic signature of the Last Glacial Maximum and last deglaciation from the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitude. Marine Geology, vol. 346, 246-255.

Aitken, R.A., Wilson, G.S., Jordan, T., Tinto, K., Blakemore, H., 2012. Flexural controls on late Neogene basin evolution in southern McMurdo Sound. Global and Planetary Change. vol. 80-81, 99-112.

Lurcock, P., Wilson, G.S., 2012. PuffinPlot: A versatile, user-friendly program for paleomagnetic analysis. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. vol. 13, Q06Z45, doi:10.1029/2012GC004098.

Wilson, G.S., Tinto, K.J., 2009. Calibration of gravity base stations, McMurdo Station and Scott Base, Ross Island, Antarctica. Antarctic Science, vol. 21, 367-372.

Johnston, L., Wilson, G.S., Gorman, A.R., Henrys, S.A., Horgan, H., Clark, R., Naish, T.R., 2008. Cenozoic basin evolution beneath the southern McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Global and Planetary Change, vol. 62, 61-76.

Recent presentations

Building a Sustainable Future in a Warming World – NZ Presbyterian School Conference 2018

Antarctica – The Challenge of a Warming World for the Icy Continent – Otago Alumni Presentation 2018

Climate Change and the Lessons from Antarctica – Air New Zealand AEP Presentation 2018

The Challenge of Antarctic Research in a Warming World – NZARI Winter School Presentation 2018

Climate Change – What is the Legacy we are Leaving our Children – Chapman Tripp presentation 2018


Beagley, J., Smith, R., Moy, C. M., Arnaud, G., & Wilson, G. S. (2024). Characteristics and drivers of deep-water properties in Patea/Doubtful Sound: A temperate fjord in SW Aotearoa/New Zealand. Proceedings of the Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM). CB14A-1050. Retrieved from Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Romano, V., Fischanger, F., Lupi, M., Wilson, G. S., Sciarra, A., Mazzini, A., … Anderson, J., Worthington, R., … Ruggiero, L. (2023). Deep Electrical Resistivity Tomography with the Fullwaver system to investigate permafrost hydrogeology in the Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Proceedings of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting: Wide. Open. Science. NS33B-0634. Retrieved from Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Anderson, J. T. H., Fujioka, T., Fink, D., Hidy, A. J., Wilson, G. S., Wilcken, K., … Demidov, N. (2023). Antarctic permafrost processes and antiphase dynamics of cold-based glaciers in the McMurdo Dry Valleys inferred from 10Be and 26Al cosmogenic nuclides. Cryosphere, 17, 4917-4936. doi: 10.5194/tc-17-4917-2023 Journal - Research Article

Gorman, A., Wilson, G. S., Moy, C. M., Riesselman, C. R., Beagley, J. E., Gilmer, G., Dagg, B., & Bowman, H. (2023). High-resolution imaging of post-glacial sedimentation in New Zealand's fjords reveals regional history of deglaciation. In G. E. Frontin-Rollett & S. D. Nodder (Eds.), Geoscience Society of New Zealand Miscellaneous Publication. 164A, (pp. 88). Wellington, New Zealand: Geoscience Society of New Zealand. [Abstract] Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Wilson, G., Ruggiero, L., Sciarra, A., Mazzini, A., Florindo, F., Tartarello, M., … Anderson, J., … Ciotoli, G. (2023). Permafrost degassing in Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Proceedings of the New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Science Conference (NZAASC): Latitudes of Change. (pp. 86). Retrieved from Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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