Our Head of School, Professor Mark Macklin, has been undertaking field research as part of an ongoing project and appointment with Massey University, New Zealand.

Prof Macklin is working with a multi-national team to reconstruct flood histories from the current geological epoch known as the Holocene, which began 11,700 years ago, marking the end of the glacial phase of the most recent ice age.

The fieldwork is being undertaken in the Grebe Valley in Fiordland, South Island, New Zealand- chosen because it was blocked by a large landslide around 13,000 years ago and as a consequence, the lower part of the river valley has filled up with sediment.

Prof Macklin and his team cored this area down to a depth of c. 7m, with flood events showing sandy units in the cores. Overall, the group collected a total of 70m cores from more than a dozen sites. As these samples are cased in plastic, further work to determine the samples’ detailed stratigraphy will take place in specialist laboratories.

Below is footage of the group’s first flight into the Rover Glebe, Fiordland, carrying the team and their coring equipment. 

The findings of the study will be used to improve understanding of climate change impacts associated especially with the El Niño Southern Oscillation on extreme hydrological events in the South Pacific, including New Zealand.

Footage below showing the stunning view of the flight back to Manapouri, where the group stayed.

This is part of a wider project with Massey and Lincoln studying the controls of large floods with research already completed in the Manawatu, Whanganui (last year’s video) and Lower Hutt (subject of a BBC 2 Wales Week in Week Out programme on flooding shown in February 2016? You should be able to find this on their website) Rivers, North Island, New Zealand. This information is being used by the flood risk agencies in both the Wellington, Palmerston North and Whanganui regions.

You can find out more about the School of Geography online