Sediment transport dynamics in the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Program Code: 

Dr Xiao Hua Wang (

Description of Work: 


Due to land clearance and grazing in the catchment areas of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) rivers, the inshore regions of the GBR are subject to enhanced fluxes of suspended sediments from river runoff, causing bleaching and disappearance of nearshore coral reefs. This project will, for the first time, combine observation and numerical models to investigate the sediment transport dynamics in the GBR region. By quantifying the sediment transport and defining its pathways from rivers to the outer shelf of the GBR, the proposed research will directly address the water quality issues of the GBR, thus help to better evaluate the impact of the land degradation on, and manage and protect the GBR marine ecosystem that offers Australia with tremendous economic, social and cultural values.

Description of Work:

  • Collect and synthesise published historic sediment, hydrology and meteorology data from the shelf of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and build a multi-variate marine and meteorological database for model forcing, validation and calibration
  • Develop high resolution hydrodynamics and sediment transport models that are capable of reproducing nepheloid layer process on the shelf of the GBR;
  • Combine observations and models of the GBR shelf to investigate the dynamics of nepheloid layers and extent to which current theory and models can make reliable and general predictions of nepheloid layers
  • Also, sediment transport and pathways from the nearshore zone to the outer shelf of the GBR within and above the nepheloid layers will be investigated. The nepheloid layer effect on the BBL hydrodynamics and coastal ocean circulation will be determined.