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Reef geomorphology and impacts for climate change

Other Details: 

Kimberly Marine Research Program: Project 1.3.1
Location: Camden Sound,  Montgomery Reef
Project Leader: Lindsay Collins, Curtin University
Telephone: 9266 7977
Email: as at 14/01/2019 (formerly

Final Report

Collins et al (2015). Final Report of Project 1.3.1 of the Kimberley Marine Research Program Node of the Western Australian Marine Science Institution, WAMSI, Perth, Western Australia, 247pp

Project Aims

In this project we will seek to understand the past history of coral reef growth for several Kimberley reefs, using a combination of remote sensing, sub-bottom profiling and , where possible , shallow low impact coring. Regional structure has built much of the landforms and related ecosystem development, and controlled the architecture of the drowned landscapes (during rising sea levels of the last 10,000 years) over which coral reef systems have developed.  Coral reefs have developed  as shelf edge, inner shelf and coastal reefs inshore, and whilst the offshore reefs have been studied little is known about the inshore reefs for over ca 400km of this complex coastal zone. Through GIS mapping, seismic profiling and coring this study will provide the first geomorphological analysis of the inshore reefs.


  1. How do Kimberley reefs vary regionally in response to coastal substrate controls, terrestrial inputs, types of foundations? What are the contrasts between coastal, mid shelf and offshore reefs, and how is this reflected in reef substrates and oceanographic controls? 
  2. How have environmental conditions in the inshore Kimberley region changed over the last several thousand years and what has been the associated response of coral communities and growth patterns?
  3. How have the interactions between substrates, sea levels, extreme macrotidal conditions, high turbidity and subsidence controlled the inshore reefs, and how are these factors reflected in reef building communities, “turn on –turn off “ history and ecology and substrates?


  • Use remote sensing with limited ground truth checking to establish the regional geomorphology, growth patterns and substrates of the inshore Kimberley reefs;
  • Determine the seismic architecture of selected Kimberley reefs as part of an assessment of Holocene reef growth and relation to antecedent foundations;
  • Obtain a Holocene record of sea level change, reef building communities, chronology and growth patterns and climate history of selected inshore reefs; including selected proxies (e.g. SST (Sr/Ca), pH (boron isotopes), salinity (18O and Sr/Ca) and terrestrial runoff (Ba/Ca)), for comparison with the short term record, where suitable coral material is obtained.

Study Areas

  • For remote sensing: As much of the major reefs as possible will be studied via satellite remote sensing and similar methods.
  • For sub-bottom profiling:  Parts of the Sunday Islands, Buccaneer Archipelago, Montgomery Reef, and Heywood Islands (Camden Sound) would be profiled offshore and over reefs at high tides using small vessels.
  • For shallow coring: Reef crest and lagoon sites along selected sub-bottom transects would be cored using lightweight portable, low impact equipment, hand operated. The amount to be attempted would depend on initial success rates.

Research Articles

  1. Solihuddin, T.,  Bufarale, G., Blakeway, D., O'Leary, M.J., 2016. Geomorphology and Late Holocene Accretion History of Adele Reef: a Northwest Australian Mid-Shelf Platform Reef, Geo-Marine Letters, 2016, 1–15. DOI: 10.1007/s00367-016-0465-3
  2. Bufarale G, Collins LB, O’Leary MJ, Stevens A, Kordi M, Solihuddin T (2016). Quaternary onset and evolution of Kimberley coral reefs (Northwest Australia) revealed by high-resolution seismic imaging. Journal of Continental Shelf Research, 123, 80–88 doi:10.1016/j.csr.2016.04.002
  3. Kordi, M.N., and O’Leary, M. (2016). Geomorphic classification of reefs in the north western Australia Shelf. Regional Studies in Marine Science, DOI 10.1016/j.rsma.2016.05.012.
  4. Kordi, M.N., and O’Leary, M. (2016) A Spatial Approach to Improve Coastal Bioregion Management of the North Western Australia. Ocean & Coastal Management, 127, 26-42 doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2016.04.004
  5. Solihuddin T, O’Leary M, Blakeway D, Parnum I, Kordi M, Collins L (March 2016) Holocene reef evolution in a macrotidal setting: Buccaneer Archipelago, Kimberley Bioregion, Northwest Australia Coral Reefs DOI 10.1007/s00338-016-1424-1
  6. Ryan J. Lowe, Arturo S. Leon, Graham Symonds, James L. Falter, and Renee Gruber The intertidal hydraulics of tide-dominated reef platforms Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans Volume 120, Issue 7 July 2015 Pages 4845–4868 DOI: 10.1002/2015JC010701
  7. Kordi M.N., Collins, L.B., O'Leary M, Stevens A (November 2015) ReefKIM: An integrated geodatabase for sustainable management of the Kimberley Reefs, North West Australia Ocean & Coastal Management doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2015.11.004
  8. Kordi M.N., Collins, L.B. and Stevens A. (2015). A Large Scale Geomorphological and Surficial Cover Map of Nearshore Reefs in the Kimberley Coast, WA. In Proceedings from Coast to Coast Conference 2014, Mandurah, Western Australia. ISBN-10: 0994357206 pp 15–20
  9. Collins L.B., O’Leary M.J., Stevens A. M., Bufarale G., Kordi M., Solihuddin T, 2015. Geomorphic Patterns, internal architecture and Reef Growth in a macrotidal, high turbidity setting of coral reefs from the Kimberley Bioregion. Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 12-22. (open access from Nov 2017)
  10. Kordi M.N., Collins L.B. and Stevens, A. (2015). Geomorphic Patterns, Habitats and Substrates of Macrotidal Reefs from the Kimberley, North West Australia. In Proceedings from 2015 WAMSI Research Conference, Perth, Western Australia pp 72
  11. Z. T. Richards, M. J. O’Leary, The coralline algal cascades of Tallon Island (Jalan) fringing reef, NW Australia. Coral Reefs June 2015, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 595-595 First online: 04 February 2015 doi: 10.1007/s00338-015-1262-6
  12. Giada Bufarale · Lindsay B. Collins Stratigraphic architecture and evolution of a barrier seagrass bank in the mid-late Holocene, Shark Bay, Australia. Marine Geology 11/2014; 359. DOI:10.1016/j.margeo.2014.11.010