Dr Thomas Oliver

Dr Thomas Oliver

Senior Lecturer
UNSW Canberra
School of Science

Dr Thomas Oliver studied at the University of Wollongong and completed Bachelor of Marine Science Advanced Honours (Class 1) supervised by Dr Kerrylee Rogers and Prof. Colin Woodroffe. He then completed a PhD under the supervision of Professor Colin Woodroffe reconstructing the depositional history of three prograded coastal barrier systems in southern NSW using OSL dating, Ground Penetrating Radar and airborne LiDAR. Dr Oliver continued and expanded this work as a post-doctoral research fellow at UOW before arriving at UNSW Canberra at the beginning of 2018 as a Lecturer in a teaching and research position. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2022.

Dr Oliver is interested in all aspects of coastal science spanning a range of time and space scales, from the late Quaternary to present-day processes, and from barrier and estuary evolution through to cyclic cut and fill of beaches by storms and estuary entrance behaviour. He has conducted research in many coastal locations around Australia including north Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. An overarching theme of his research is the application of our knowledge of sandy shoreline behaviour to coastal management in light of future coastal pressures. His research also involves the application of OSL dating to coastal sediments and he has led or co-authored publications that have contributed >350 OSL ages. This has furthered our understanding of the timing of coastal deposition and better constrained the age of key coastal landform features.

Research interests and potential PhD topics:

  • Holocene evolution of prograded coastal barriers
  • Reconstructing Late-Quaternary and Holocene sea levels in southeastern Australia from raised coastal landforms
  • Application of Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating to young (<500 years) sediments
  • Sandy shoreline behaviour on planning timescales from sedimentary archives - extending the record of east coast lows along the NSW coast
  • Beach morphodynamics at Bengello Beach - continuing a 50-year monitoring program with new technologies
  • Luminescence dating of Australian coastal sediments - a review and contribution to the OCTOPUS database in collaboration with CABAH at UOW.
  • Understanding the sediments of the shallow sea bed and the character of drowned landforms
  • Quantifying the contribution of river sediments to the coast in southern NSW.
  • Barrier washover in the sedimentary record and on historical timescales


Honours project topics:

  • Historical washover events at Brou Beach barrier - stratigraphy and sedimentology
  • Sediments of the lower Moruya River - do they reach the coast?
  • Merimbula barrier washover plain, morphology, age and stratigraphy 


Recent Media:

Follow me on Twitter: @dr_tom_oliver

+61 2 5114 5038
  • Book Chapters | 2022
    McBride RA; Anderson JB; Buynevich IV; Byrnes MR; Cleary W; Fenster MS; FitzGerald DM; Hapke CJ; Harris MS; Hein CJ; Johnson CL; Klein AHF; Liu B; De Menezes JT; Mulhern JS; Oliver TSN; Pejrup M; Riggs SR; Roberts HH; Rodriguez AB; Seminack CT; Short AD; Stone GW; Tamura T; Wallace DJ; Wang P, 2022, 'Morphodynamics of Modern and Ancient Barrier Systems: An Updated and Expanded Synthesis', in Treatise on Geomorphology, pp. 289 - 417, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-818234-5.00153-X
  • Journal articles | 2024
    Oliver TSN; Kinsela MA; Doyle TB; McLean RF, 2024, 'Foredune erosion, overtopping and destruction in 2022 at Bengello Beach, southeastern Australia', Cambridge Prisms: Coastal Futures, 2, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/cft.2024.8
    Journal articles | 2024
    Short AD; Tamura T; Oliver TSN; Detmar S; Fotheringham D, 2024, 'Quaternary clifftop and last glacial maximum dunes around the Great Australian Bight', Quaternary Science Reviews, 327, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2024.108517
    Journal articles | 2023
    McLean R; Thom B; Shen J; Oliver T, 2023, '50 years of beach–foredune change on the southeastern coast of Australia: Bengello Beach, Moruya, NSW, 1972–2022', Geomorphology, 439, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2023.108850
    Journal articles | 2023
    Oliver TSN; Owers CJ; Tamura T; van Bracht D, 2023, 'Holocene estuary infill leads to coastal barrier initiation from fluvial sand supply in southeastern Australia', Holocene, 33, pp. 1489 - 1503, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/09596836231197744
    Journal articles | 2022
    Brooke BP; Huang Z; Nicholas WA; Oliver TSN; Tamura T; Woodroffe CD; Nichol SL, 2022, 'Reply to the comment by Dougherty, A.J. on “Relative sea-level records preserved in Holocene beach-ridge strandplains – An example from tropical northeastern Australia” by Brooke, B.P., Huang, Z., Nicholas, W.A., Oliver, T.S.N., Tamura, T., Woodroffe, C.D., Nichol, S.L.', Marine Geology, 447, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2022.106768
    Journal articles | 2022
    Oliver TSN; Donaldson P; Tamura T, 2022, 'Embayment-scale coastal evolution and shoreline progradation in southeast Tasmania, Australia', Marine Geology, 444, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2021.106725
    Journal articles | 2022
    Oliver TSN; Tamura T, 2022, 'The relevance of coastal sediment budgets to management of sandy wave-dominated shorelines, a case study of Twofold Bay, southeastern Australia', Ocean and Coastal Management, 228, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2022.106311
    Journal articles | 2022
    Woodroffe CD; Carvalho RC; Oliver TSN; Thom BG, 2022, 'Sediment dynamics at different timescales on an embayed coast in southeastern Australia', Journal of Coastal Conservation, 26, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11852-022-00867-2
    Journal articles | 2022
    Yang G; Wang XH; Zhong Y; Oliver TSN, 2022, 'Modelling study on the sediment dynamics and the formation of the flood-tide delta near Cullendulla Beach in the Batemans Bay, Australia', Marine Geology, 452, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2022.106910
    Journal articles | 2021
    Lu J; Han G; Song D; Oliver T; Teng Y; Guo J; Wu L; Zhang C; Jiang X, 2021, 'The Cross-Shore Component in the Vertical Structure of Wave-Induced Currents and Resulting Offshore Transport', Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126, http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2021JC017311
    Journal articles | 2021
    McBride RA; Oliver TSN; Dougherty AJ; Tamura T; Carvalho RC; Short AD; Woodroffe CD, 2021, 'The turnaround from transgression to regression of Holocene barrier systems in south-eastern Australia: Geomorphology, geological framework and geochronology', Sedimentology, 68, pp. 943 - 986, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sed.12812
    Journal articles | 2021
    Oliver TSN; Tamura T, 2021, 'Sub-centennially resolved behavior of an accreting sandy shoreline over the past ~ 1000 years', Journal of Sedimentary Research, 91, pp. 211 - 218, http://dx.doi.org/10.2110/JSR.2020.074
    Journal articles | 2021
    Yang G; Wang XH; Cheng Z; Zhong Y; Oliver T, 2021, 'Modelling study on estuarine circulation and its effect on the turbidity maximum zone in the Yalu River Estuary, China', Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 263, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2021.107634
    Journal articles | 2020
    Kennedy DM; Oliver TSN; Tamura T; Murray-Wallace CV; Thom BG; Rosengren NJ; Ierodiaconou D; Augustinus P; Leach C; Gao J; McSweeney SL; Konlechner T; Woodroffe CD, 2020, 'Holocene evolution of the Ninety Mile Beach sand barrier, Victoria, Australia: The role of sea level, sediment supply and climate.', Marine Geology, 430, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2020.106366
    Journal articles | 2020
    Oliver TSN; Tamura T; Brooke BP; Short AD; Kinsela MA; Woodroffe CD; Thom BG, 2020, 'Holocene evolution of the wave-dominated embayed Moruya coastline, southeastern Australia: Sediment sources, transport rates and alongshore interconnectivity', Quaternary Science Reviews, 247, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106566
    Journal articles | 2020
    Oliver TSN; Tamura T; Murray-Wallace CV, 2020, 'Identification of reworked foraminifera in temperate carbonate sediments – A pilot study from the Coorong Coastal Plain, southern Australia', Marine Geology, 421, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2019.106096
    Journal articles | 2020
    Oliver TSN, 2020, 'Backhoe for an Auger', Journal of Coastal Research, 101, pp. 406 - 407, http://dx.doi.org/10.2112/JCR-SI101-074.1
    Journal articles | 2020
    Oliver TSN, 2020, 'Sliding, Sliding, Stuck - Flotsam Tobogganing Down an Interglacial Beach', Journal of Coastal Research, 101, pp. 390 - 391, http://dx.doi.org/10.2112/JCR-SI101-070.1
    Journal articles | 2019
    Brooke BP; Huang Z; Nicholas WA; Oliver TSN; Tamura T; Woodroffe CD; Nichol SL, 2019, 'Relative sea-level records preserved in Holocene beach-ridge strandplains – An example from tropical northeastern Australia', Marine Geology, 411, pp. 107 - 118, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2019.02.005
    Journal articles | 2019
    Carvalho RC; Oliver TSN; Woodroffe CD, 2019, 'Transition from marine to fluvial-dominated sediment supply at Shoalhaven prograded barrier, southeastern Australia', Geomorphology, 341, pp. 65 - 78, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2019.05.010
    Journal articles | 2019
    Oliver TSN; Murray-Wallace CV; Woodroffe CD, 2019, 'Holocene shoreline progradation and coastal evolution at Guichen and Rivoli Bays, southern Australia', The Holocene, pp. 095968361987581 - 095968361987581, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959683619875815
    Journal articles | 2019
    Oliver TSN; Tamura T; Short AD; Woodroffe CD, 2019, 'Rapid shoreline progradation followed by vertical foredune building at Pedro Beach, southeastern Australia', Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 44, pp. 655 - 666, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/esp.4510
    Journal articles | 2019
    Tamura T; Cunningham AC; Oliver TSN, 2019, 'Two-dimensional chronostratigraphic modelling of OSL ages from recent beach-ridge deposits, SE Australia', Quaternary Geochronology, 49, pp. 39 - 44, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quageo.2018.03.003
    Journal articles | 2019
    Tamura T; Nicholas WA; Oliver TSN; Brooke BP, 2019, 'Reply to the Discussion by John Nott on ‘Coarse-sand beach ridges at Cowley Beach, north-eastern Australia: Their formative processes and potential as records of tropical cyclone history’ by Tamura et al. (2018), Sedimentology,65, 721–744', Sedimentology, 66, pp. 769 - 773, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sed.12495
    Journal articles | 2019
    Tamura T; Oliver TSN; Cunningham AC; Woodroffe CD, 2019, 'Recurrence of Extreme Coastal Erosion in SE Australia Beyond Historical Timescales Inferred From Beach Ridge Morphostratigraphy', Geophysical Research Letters, 46, pp. 4705 - 4714, http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2019GL083061
    Journal articles | 2019
    Thom BG; Oliver TSN, 2019, 'Evidence for a change in wind regime during the Last Glacial Maximum from the Sydney region', Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 66, pp. 279 - 288, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08120099.2019.1522668
    Journal articles | 2018
    Gugliotta M; Saito Y; Ben B; Sieng S; Oliver TSN, 2018, 'Sedimentology of late Holocene fluvial levee and point-bar deposits from the Cambodian tract of the Mekong river', Journal of the Geological Society, 175, pp. 176 - 186, http://dx.doi.org/10.1144/jgs2017-047
    Journal articles | 2018
    Oliver TSN; Donaldson P; Roach M; Woodroffe CD; Sharples C, 2018, 'Reply to: Punctuated transgression (?): Comment on Oliver, T.S.N., Donaldson, P., Sharples, C., Roach, M., and Woodroffe, C.D. “Punctuated progradation of the Seven Mile Beach Holocene barrier system, southeastern Tasmania”', Marine Geology, 405, pp. 131 - 133, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2018.09.005
    Journal articles | 2018
    Oliver TSN; Kennedy DM; Tamura T; Murray-Wallace CV; Konlechner TM; Augustinus PC; Woodroffe CD, 2018, 'Interglacial-glacial climatic signatures preserved in a regressive coastal barrier, southeastern Australia', Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 501, pp. 124 - 135, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2018.04.011
    Journal articles | 2018
    Tamura T; Nicholas WA; Oliver TSN; Brooke BP, 2018, 'Coarse-sand beach ridges at Cowley Beach, north-eastern Australia: Their formative processes and potential as records of tropical cyclone history', Sedimentology, 65, pp. 721 - 744, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sed.12402
    Journal articles | 2017
    Oliver TSN; Donaldson P; Sharples C; Roach M; Woodroffe CD, 2017, 'Punctuated progradation of the Seven Mile Beach Holocene barrier system, southeastern Tasmania', Marine Geology, 386, pp. 76 - 87, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2017.02.014
    Journal articles | 2017
    Oliver TSN; Tamura T; Hudson JP; Woodroffe CD, 2017, 'Integrating millennial and interdecadal shoreline changes: Morpho-sedimentary investigation of two prograded barriers in southeastern Australia', Geomorphology, 288, pp. 129 - 147, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.03.019
    Journal articles | 2017
    Oliver TSN; Thom BG; Woodroffe CD, 2017, 'Formation of beach-ridge plains: an appreciation of the contribution by Jack L. Davies', Geographical Research, 55, pp. 305 - 320, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1745-5871.12193
    Journal articles | 2015
    Oliver TS; Dougherty AJ; Gliganic LA; Woodroffe CD, 2015, 'Towards more robust chronologies of coastal progradation: Optically stimulated luminescence ages for the coastal plain at Moruya, south-eastern Australia', Holocene, 25, pp. 536 - 546, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959683614561886
    Journal articles | 2012
    Oliver TSN; Rogers K; Chafer CJ; Woodroffe CD, 2012, 'Measuring, mapping and modelling: An integrated approach to the management of mangrove and saltmarsh in the Minnamurra River estuary, southeast Australia', Wetlands Ecology and Management, 20, pp. 353 - 371, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11273-012-9258-2
  • Conference Presentations | 2021
    Oliver T; Tamura T; Brooke B; Short A; Kinsela M; Woodroffe C; Thom B, 2021, 'Holocene sediment budget for wave-dominated Moruya coastline, southeastern Australia: sediment sources, transport and embayment interconnectivity', http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8104
    Conference Papers | 2016
    Oliver TSN; Woodroffe CD, 2016, 'Chronology, morphology and GPR-imaged internal structure of the Callala Beach Prograded Barrier in Southeastern Australia', in Journal of Coastal Research, pp. 318 - 322, http://dx.doi.org/10.2112/SI75-064.1

Local Government Contract, Bega Valley Shire Council - Understanding sediment movements within the lower Bega River estuary

Research Infrastructure Scheme: Real Time Kinematic (RTK) Global Positioning System (GPS) instruments for environmental geospatial research

My Research Supervision

Md Ashraful Islam - Recently completed.

Thesis topic: Assessing Resilience to a Tropical Cyclone in Coastal Bangladesh: a Synthesis of Geo-spatial Techniques and Social Responses

Gang Yang - Recently completed

Thesis topic: Modelling study on hydrodynamics and sediment dynamics in coastal areas: three case studies in Yalu River Estuary, Darwin Harbour and Batemans Bay in China and Australia

Le Anh

Thesis topic: Estimating tropical forest above-ground biomass at the local scale using multi-source space-borne remote sensing data

Sanzida Murshed

Thesis topic: ConDRI: A Systematic Approach towards Assessing Contemporary Disaster Risk in the Coastal Region of Bangladesh

My Teaching

I teach at UNSW Canberra contributing to subjects of the Geography major:

  • Geography 1A
  • Geography 1B
  • The Art and Science of Doing Geography (the spatial science and remote sensing component)
  • Coastal Geography
  • Geographic Research Methods