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Changing Southern Seas

Geochemical and paleoceanographic studies of how the ocean has been changing and what it might become.

If there’s one thing the sea does, it’s change. It always has, and it always will. As the atmosphere changes, so does the sea. As the tectonic activity in the centre of the Earth changes, so does the sea. And as people have spread out across the planet and have started making a difference, so the sea is changing again.

Some of our research looks at understanding changes in the past, and how they affected the planet. Others look at ways to understand what is happening today, and what tomorrow may bring.

Here in Otago we are perfectly situated to look at marine changes. We work right next to the Subtropical Convergence, a major ocean front that is never closer to land than it is to us. We have field stations in Fiordland and Stewart Islands, near-pristine coastal environments. We are the jumping off point for voyages to the subantarctic islands and even Antarctica.


People     TopButton

  • Professor Abby Smith, Head of Department
    Marine sedimentology, skeletal geochemistry, calcification, carbonate sedimentology, ocean acidification, bryozoans
  • Professor Gary Wilson, Lecturer Marine Geology,
    Marine Sedimentology, Paleoceanography, Paleoclimatology Paleomagnetism
  • Professor Miles Lamare Lecturer
    Larval ecology, ocean acidification, UV effects
  • Dr Christina Riesselman Lecturer
    Cenozoic paleoceanography and paleoclimate
  • Esther Stuck, MSc student
    Ocean acidification and early life stages of echinoids

Research Projects     TopButton

In situ saturometry of coastal sediments, southern New Zealand – Abigail Smith

Skeletal carbonate mineralogy of echinoids – Abigail Smith, Miles Lamare, Maria Byrne (USyd Sydney), Symon Dworjanyn (NMSC Coffs Harbour), Dana Clark (Cawthron Nelson)

Skeletal carbonate mineralogy of cephalopods -- Abigail Smith, Kat Bolstad (AUT), Kennedy Wolfe (USyd Sydney), Maria Byrne (USyd Sydney)

Skeletal carbonate mineralogy of calcareous sponges – Abigail Smith, Marcus M Key Jr (Dickinson Carlisle PA), Jade Berman (UK)

Skeletal carbonate mineralogy of serpulid worms – Abigail Smith, Marc A Riedi, David J Winter
Bryozoan carbonate: a temperate record of seawater chemistry-- Abigail Smith, Marcus M. Key, Jr. (Dickinson PA)

The colour purple: why is Iodictyum brightly coloured? Abigail Smith, Kevin Tilbrook (MusQ, Townsville Aust)

Stopping when cold? Growth checks in Melicerita chathamensis, a temperate bryozoan. Abigail Smith, Marcus M Key Jr (Dickinson, PA), Steven J Hageman (AppStateU, USA)


Opportunities     TopButton


Here on the doorstep to the Southern Ocean, you can carry out ground-breaking research into the global changes taking place in the world’s oceans. You will learn what you need to know in order to design your own research – and then carry it out. We have the resources , scholarships , staff  and opportunities you need to reach your goals.


PhD Scholarships and Projects Available:

  • Calcification Mechanisms in Temperate Marine Bryozoans
  • Growth, Calcification and Skeletal Mineralogy of Barnacles
    If you are interested in pursuing one of these PhD projects, please contact: