Dr Gareth Chalmers was awarded his MSc (2001) from the University of Newcastle which included studying the impact of sea level changes on the deposition of peat-forming environments. Dr Chalmers then completed his PhD (2007) at the University of British Columbia (Canada) and investigated the effects of sea level change on shale reservoir quality and mineralogy.
Dr Chalmers' research has focussed on understanding: 1) controls on gas recovery to improve sustainability of the energy sector; 2) the origins of toxic gases to reduce health/environmental impact in energy developments; and 3) the distribution and retention of pollutants within a modern delta.
Dr Chalmers uses a multidisciplinary approach to solve complex Earth Science problems. Techniques used include sedimentology, geochemistry, mineralogy, electron/plane light microscopy and geological modeling to develop robust interpretations. His research will continue to solve environmental issues related to the development of energy resources as well as the contamination of sedimentary environments from industrial, urban and agricultural sources.
Dr Chalmers' research and teaching goals at USC are to establish an environmental sedimentology program that will integrate with current expertise within the School of Science and Engineering.
The program will include understanding how sedimentary processes distribute pollutants and how these pollutants are stored and modified over time.
Active Research Project
Earth Science Research in Blue Carbon Wetlands of the Sunshine Coast
A research partnership between USC and the Sunshine Coast Council
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCC) is actively engaged in the restoration of coastal wetlands (< 2 m AHD) within the lower reaches of the Maroochy River catchment area which is referred to as the Blue Heart. This area lies west of Coolum and Mudjimba beaches and is part of an ancient estuarine system. The Blue Heart is under increasing pressure from flooding as more freshwater and marine flooding is expected in the coming decades due to climate change. If wetlands are not established, this area is likely to be flooded and become a permanent estuarine lagoon system.
Benefits to restoring this area back to native wetlands will include increased biodiversity, larger fish habitat, improved water quality, and the protection from extreme weather events like storm surges, tidal inundation and flash flooding. If the restoration area is not capable of vertical accretion through the deposition of sediments at rate that equals or exceeds current sea level rise the likely result will be a flooded, estuarine-lagoon system. This system does not provide the ecosystem services (listed above) at the same scale as wetlands provide and areas downstream will be at risk to large fluvial flooding events.
One objective of this project will include setting up high resolution surface elevation monitoring systems across the restoring wetlands to understand changes in wetland sediment accretion, sediment compaction and regional subsidence (or uplift). In conjunction with this monitoring system, water level monitoring and sedimentation rates will be measured to understand changes to the hydrogeomorphology of the area. This data set will be used to create a robust earth science model on the resilience of the wetland restoration during climate change. The model will highlight if additional management strategies will be needed to ensure wetland progression.
An additional objective is to accurately measure soil carbon storage within the wetlands and these baseline measurements will be used to understand changes in carbon geosequestration as the wetland restoration proceeds. The rates of carbon geosequestration will be compared to historical data through the measurement of deeper carbon volumes and age dating. The complex interaction of carbon with mineral matter in soils will also be investigated to understand how carbon moves within the soil system and if there are significant losses (i.e., DOC) within the system.
The project is funded for infrastructure and operational expenses for the next 3 years (from 2022); however, monitoring will continue beyond the current project life and additional funding will be explored.
Potential Research Projects for HDR and Honours Students
- Modern and ancient sedimentary geology
- Environment geology of energy resources
- Environmental geology of energy resources using geochemistry
- Examination of contaminates in modern sediments to determine environmental impact
- Understand sedimentary processes influence on concentrating and degrading contaminates in natural and modified sedimentary environments
- Earth Sciences
- Sedimentary processes of modern and ancient sediments
- Chalmers, G.R.L., Adams, R., Bustin, A. and Bustin, R.M., In Press, The Environmental Significance of Sediment Surface Area as a Controlling Factor in the Preservation of Polychlorinated Dibenzo-P-Dioxins and Dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF) in Sediments Adjacent to Woodfibre Pulp Mill, Howe Sound, British Columbia. Minerals Journal.
- Chalmers, G. and Bustin, R.M., 2017, A multidisciplinary approach in determining the maceral (kerogen type) and mineralogical composition of Cretaceous Eagle Ford Formation: Impact on pore development and pore size distribution. International J. of Coal Geology, 171, 93-110.
- Munson, E., Chalmers, G., Bustin, R.M., and Li, K. 2016. Utilizing smear mounts for X-ray diffraction as a fully quantitative approach in rapidly characterizing the mineralogy of shale gas reservoirs. Journal of Unconventional Oil and Gas Resources, v 14, 22-31.
- Chalmers, G., Boyd, R. and Diessel, C., 2013. Accommodation-based coal cycles and significant surface correlation of low accommodation Lower Cretaceous coal seams, Lloydminster Heavy Oilfield, Alberta, Canada: Implications for coal quality distribution. AAPG Bulletin v. 97, 1347-1369.
- Chalmers, G., Bustin, R.M., and Power, I. 2012. Characterization of Gas Shale Pore Systems by Porosimetry, Pycnometry, Surface Area and FE-SEM/TEM Image Analysis: Examples from the Barnett, Woodford, Haynesville, Marcellus, and Doig Formations. AAPG Bulletin, v. 96, 1099-1119.
Dr Gareth Chalmers specialist areas of knowledge include earth sciences, sedimentology and sedimentary processes of modern and ancient sediments.