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GEOG454 Alpine Geomorphology

Earth surface processes and resultant landforms in high altitude and high latitude areas.

Paper title Alpine Geomorphology
Paper code GEOG454
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (10 July 2023 - 11 November 2023) (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,409.28
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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The content of this paper assumes that students will have completed an undergraduate degree in Geography, Earth Science or Geology.

Please contact Professor Sean Fitzsimons for information on the recommended background for this paper.

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Professor Sean Fitzsimons

Paper Structure


  • Mountain geomorphology
  • Alpine sediment transfer
  • Lake sedimentary processes
  • Alluvial fans

Student seminars:

  • Each student will complete a seminar on an assigned topic and will submit a written paper based on the seminar

Field School:

  • Mapping landforms
  • Environmental monitoring using a variety of techniques
  • Coring and geophysical survey of lakes
  • Application of understanding geomorphology to environmental management issues

In 2022, the field school will be based in South Westland in April.

The field school will involve:

  • Making observations on the impacts of seismic and storm-driven landscape disturbance
  • Understanding the imprint of glaciation on the landscape of south Westland
  • Undertaking an erosion assessment of tracks and roads for tourist access
  • Learning how landscape change is embedded in lake sediments
  • Making an evaluation of the hazards posed by episodic seismic shaking and storm events in south Westland

This paper is 100% internally assessed.

Teaching Arrangements

One 2-hour lecture per week.


Textbooks are not required for this paper, but Bierman and Montgomery (2013) Key Concepts in Geomorphology is a useful resource (available on close reserve in the Science Library).

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will gain:

  • Understanding of the complex nature of interactions between tectonic and surface processes
  • Understanding how mountain development is driven by tectonic and climatic processes
  • Knowledge and understanding of the erosion, transportation and deposition processes in an alpine setting
  • An understanding of how lake sediments can be used to reconstruct landscape change
  • An advanced ability to undertake research in the primary literature and write coherent and convincing arguments from that literature
  • An advanced ability to integrate field and laboratory evidence of landscape change

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Semester 2 (10 July 2023 - 11 November 2023)

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 10:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41