UNH Ocean Seminar

Mapping the Coastal Seabed to Understand Past and Future Coastal Change in Australia

Michael Kinsela

Coastal Marine Geoscientist and Lecturer
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
University of Newcastle, Australia

Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, 3:10pm
Chase 105

Why are some sandy coasts in southeastern Australia experiencing sustained erosion while others nearby are accreting? How sensitive or resilient are different coasts to present/future sea-level rise? How does the coastal seabed influence cross-shore sediment transport and sediment budgets along embayed coastlines? What is the offshore extent of the “active” beach system over coastal planning and management timescales? How can we predict coastal change in settings with complex geomorphology and variable sedimentology? The coastal seabed holds clues for answering these questions, and many more. It stores records of past coastal evolution, information about coastal dynamics over event to geological timescales, and hints on how shorelines may evolve under projected sea-level rise.

Mike will discuss these questions using recent and ongoing research from the southeast Australian coast, a microtidaland wave-dominated setting with a strong north-south gradient in geomorphology and sediment availability. Topics to be covered include, Southeast Australian coastal-continental shelf geomorphology & sediments – understanding and knowledge gaps; Late Quaternary marine regression/transgression influences on shelf sediment deposits and sediment availability; Seabed NSW – state program mapping the coastal seabed along the > 1000 km New South Wales (NSW) coastline; Sediment distribution and features (inc. bedforms) recently identified through high-resolution seabed mapping; Potential for shoreface adjustment to sea-level rise (or otherwise) and implications for future coastal change; Sediment compartment approach to modelling long-term shoreline change in complex geomorphic settings.


Michael Kinsela studied at the University of Sydney in Australia, completing a B.Sc. in Marine Science) and following on with First Class Honours and a Ph.D. from the Coastal Studies Unit (CSU). His Ph.D. thesis, “Shoreface Response to Sea Level Change and the Evolution of Barrier Coasts,” considered coastal dynamics over Quaternary glacial-interglacial cycles, and into the future, combining geological/geophysical data with morphodynamic modelling to study shoreface evolution and coastal deposition. Mike worked in the New South Wales (NSW) Environment Department Coastal & Marine Science team for 10 years, where he investigated coastal hazards such as beach erosion and rock platform wave overtopping, co-founded Coast Snap community beach monitoring, and established a nearshore wave buoy deployment program. In 2022, Mike joined the University of Newcastle as Lecturer in Coastal & Ocean Geoscience. Spending the past six years mapping and sampling the coastal seabed in NSW, he is now using seabed analysis and sedimentology to investigate sediment dynamics and coastal change.