Coastlines in a higher sea level

Deplacement of pressure sensors to measure nearshore wave data.

Deplacement of pressure sensors to measure nearshore wave data.

The hydrodynamic regime is a significant component in the geomorphic and ecological development of coral reefs and, in general, shorelines around the world. The energy gradients driven by breaking and transformation of waves across coral reef crest and flats control the changes of coral reef growth form, sediment transport, ecological zonation and primary carbonate production amongst other crucial areas of coral reef geomorphic evolution and ecological functioning. As such, the hydrodynamic regime is a critical boundary condition defining the bio-morphodynamic evolution of the coral reef system. Changes to these conditions lead to a response by both the living coral and also the physical reef morphology through sediment transport and coral growth. Despite this, there have been no accurate surf zone measurements in coral reef environments with most studies inferring wave breaking and energy dissipation from post-breaking data on the reef flat or through hydrodynamic models which were developed for siliciclastic settings. In addition, there has been comparatively few studies examining wave processes in coral reefs when compared to siliciclastic settings, with very few studies focusing on the mutual interaction between coral reef form (including biological assemblages and geomorphic structure), function, and fluid flow in reef settings of differing energy regimes.

With our work, we aim to acquire high resolution data from numerous reef settings to build conceptual reef morphodynamic evolution models.

Active projects

  • Reefs in a warmer world (Daniel Harris’s postdoctoral project)
  • Shoreline changes in Liguria, NW Mediterranean (Hilf wissenschaftler research project)
  • Paleoshorelines and drowned reefs of WA: predicting future sea-level rise from past sea-level change (PI Julien Bourget, UWA)

Closest collaborations

  • Valeriano Parravicini, EPHE and CNRS, France

Publications (since March 2014)

Harris, D.L., Vila-Concejo, A., Webster, J.M., Power, H.E., 2015. Spatial variations in wave transformation and sediment entrainment on a coral reef sand apron. Mar. Geol. 363, 220–229. doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2015.02.010