Kellie Adlam


Geocoastal Research Group

The University of Sydney

 PhD Candidate (Coastal Geomorphology)


Kellie Adlam is a PhD candidate of the Geocoastal Research Group at the University of Sydney, studying coastal geomorphology and evolution. She completed a Bachelor of Liberal Studies majoring in Marine Science, French and Italian from the University of Sydney, and received Honours 1 for her research project titled “Shoreface Dilation in Response to Sea
Level Rise – Tiber Delta Reference Site”.

Kellie’s PhD research project is focussed on the geomorphology and evolution of coastal lagoons, with special emphasis on the drivers of change on coastal lagoon shorelines throughout the Holocene. The approach to this research involves detailed analysis of the geochemistry, sediment properties and stratigraphy of shoreline deposits which, in combination with isotopic dating techniques, provide information on historical rates of deposition. The combination of different isotopic dating techniques is what makes a multi-scale approach possible – Lead-210 isotopes provide information about medium-term historical rates of change (10-100 years) and Carbon-14 isotopes can identify deposition that took place many thousands of years ago (up to 8,000 years for the samples obtained in this study). This multi-scale approach is important for identifying the magnitude of variability over shorter timescales and the longer-term trends that result. Core samples for this project were extracted from the shorelines of three coastal lagoons in NSW: Myall Lake, Lake Innes and Wooloweyah Lagoon. Data obtained from core samples is analysed in the context of lagoon dimensions and energy regimes over much larger scales using GIS analysis techniques. The research is important for coastal communities situated on or near the low-lying shores of estuaries and lagoons and will help inform predictions of future rates of change. The imperative to plan for such changes is particularly great under estimates of future sea level rise. Some of the research findings are also likely to be relevant to carbon sequestration studies.

Previous research has involved forecasts of coastline change on barrier costs in response to both sea level rise and human interventions. Kellie’s honours research project took her to Rome, Italy to study the city beach at Lido di Ostia. The study drew on multi-scale trends in coastal evolution including long term delta evolution over thousands of years, gleaned from historic stratigraphic studies in combination with the literature of ancient Rome), medium-term measurements of shoreline erosion and bathymetric change and short-term observations. A cross-shore, behavioural model was employed to conduct a risk-based assessment of coastal change due to various scenarios of sea level rise, and to contrast these with the magnitude of existing system change. The Tiber coast was an ideal field laboratory for such a study, as the existing erosion trends of Ostia beach meant the area had been the subject of much seismic, bathymetric and shoreline data collection over the previous 50 years.

You can find more information about Kellie’s research, including publications, using the links below:

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