Coastal Dynamics, Evolution and Protection

10 Units

Focuses on the evolution and stability of sand, mud and carbonate coasts of Australasia and the Pacific Ocean. Coastal morphodynamics are investigated with respect to the influence of sediment characteristics, supply and transport, geological inheritance, coastal climatology, nearshore and shelf oceanography, tectonics, sea-level fluctuations, and human activity. Large scale coastal behaviour is examined on timescales ranging from decades to millennia. The coastal impacts of climate variability, extreme events and climate change are a particular focus. Coastal protection strategies are investigated in case studies on long-term coastal behaviour in eastern Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Faculty Faculty of Science and Information Technology
School School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Not currently offered

Previously offered in 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

Learning Outcomes

The main objectives of GEOS3220 are:

  1. To provide a comprehensive foundation in coastal processes which control the configuration and stability of the Australian, South-East Asian, and Pacific and Indian Ocean island coasts.

  2. To identify the modes of coastal evolution and climate variability, on decadal to millennial timescales, as a basis for interpreting modern trends and events in coastal configuration changes, and the design of coastal protection strategies.

  3. To develop students’ research skills, methods of collection of field, laboratory, aerial and satellite data, training in the interpretation of coastal morphology and sedimentological sequences, and the communication of field and analytical studies.


GEOS3220 defines the major physical and chemical processes which control the configuration and stability of the modern coastal zone and its antecedent features. The coastal zone is classified into morphodynamic components of beach-dune-barrier, estuarine, delta, continental shelf, coral reef, and mid-oceanic island environments. The relative contribution of individual processes and combinations of processes in the development of these morphodynamic components is evaluated. Methods and techniques used in the field measurement and numerical modelling of coastal processes are outlined. Geomorphological and sedimentological techniques used to interpret coastal evolutionary sequences and the distinction between modern and relict coastal systems are outlined.

An understanding of longer time frame geological, geophysical, climatological, oceanographic and human processes which have affected the evolution of the modern coastal zone is provided. Processes such as plate tectonics, island tectonics, sea-level fluctuations, sediment supply, climate change, and human activity are investigated with respect to their influence on the evolution of the sandy coasts of eastern Australia and South America, the muddy coasts of northern Australia and South East Asia, the carbonate coasts and reef platforms of northern and southern Australia, and the mid-oceanic Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands, and the Antarctic coastal margin.

Coastal protection strategies are investigated in case studies on long-term coastal behaviour in eastern Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Assumed Knowledge GEOS2040/2050 and GEOS2161 or ENVS2030.
Assessment Items
  • Examination: Formal -
  • Quiz - Class - Two class quiz tests.
  • Reports - Field trip report and field note book.
Contact Hours
  • Lecture: for 4 hour(s) per Week for 8 weeks
  • Field Study: for 45 hour(s) per Term for Full Term
Timetable 2018 Course Timetables for GEOS3220
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