Professor David Chittleborough - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Staff profile

Professor David Chittleborough

PhD (Pedology) AU 

  • Professor, Pedology and Biogeochemistry
+61 7 5456 3593
Office location
Sunshine Coast
Professor David Chittleborough

Professor Chittleborough’s main interests are in hydropedology, the interaction between soils and water and influence of this interaction on soil formation and landscape evolution and its corresponding influence on the biogeochemistry of flows - both overland and throughflow.

He has made particular contributions to the origin and nature of environmental colloids and nanoparticulates, their mobility in porous media and their influence on transport of organics and phosphorus through soils. These studies involved extensive installations in the field and intensive monitoring involving in-stream and soil throughflow collectors. Grant finance has been from the Australian Research Council, Government agencies with Industry cooperation.

Professor Chittleborough has had research management experience. He was a Program Manager in the Cooperative Research Centres for Plant-based management of Dryland Salinity and the CRC Soil Conservation. He has teamed with W. Meyer to establish and maintain the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network site at Calperum where the plan is to upgrade this, and 4 Australian sites, to a Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) the first such observatories in the Southern Hemisphere.

Professor Chittleborough is also an Adjunct Professor in Pedology & Biochemistry, University of Adelaide.

Potential Research Projects for HDR and Honours Students

  • Biogenesis of soils and landscapes
  • Hydropedology
  • Geochemistry of soils

Recent Key Publications

  1. Shahabi,H., Jarihani,B., Chittleborough,D. and Tavakkoli Piralilou,S. (2019). Gully Networks Detection by Integration of Machine Learning Models and Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis; A Semi-automated Object-based Gully Networks Detection Using Different Machine Learning Models. Sensors vol 19 (22); #4893; 1-120pp.
  2. Marshall,J., Muhlack,R., Morton,B., Dunnigan,L., Chittleborough,D. and Kwong,C.W. (2019) Pyrolysis temperature effects on biochar-water interactions and application for improved water holding capacity in vineyard soils. Soil Systems 3(2): 27; doi:10.3390/soilsystems3020027.
  3. Reith,F., Verboom,W., Pate,J. and Chittleborough,D. (2019) Collaborative involvement of woody plant roots and rhizosphere microorganisms in formation of pedogenetic clays. Annals of Botany 124(6) 1007-1018 doi: 10.1093/aob/MCZ065,
  4. Steggles,E.K., Holland,K.L., Chittleborough,D.J., Doudle,S.L., Clarke,L.J., Watling,J.R. and Facelli,J.M. (2017) The potential for deep groundwater use by Acacia papyrocarpa (Western myall) in a water-limited environment Ecohydrology 10 (1) DOI: 10.1002/eco.1791
  5. Bestland,E., Liccioli,C., Soloninka,L., Chittleborough,D., Fink,D. (2016). Catchment-scale denudation and chemical erosion rates determined from 10Be and mass balance geochemistry (Mt Lofty Ranges of South Australia). Geomorphology 270:40-54.7.

Current research grants

Project name Investigator/s Funding body/A$ Year(s) of operation Focus statement
Australian Ecosystem Processes

W.Meyer and


Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN); NCRIS $343,467 2019-2022 This ecosystem monitoring site is part of an Australian-wide network monitoring atmosphere, biology, pedology and hydrology over a decadal timeframe. It will form the basis of a new discipline in Earth Science - Critical Zone Science.
Biogenesis of soil landscapes D. Chittleborough and J.Farkas

Environment Institute, University of Australia


2020 This project is the latest in a series of research projects focussed on the role of vegetation and microbiology in the genesis of soils and the effect of landscape evolution.
Australian Supersite Network

W. Meyer and


DAFF: Education Investment Fund $1,848,000 2009-2019 Establishment of an ecosystem network of 12 monitoring sites in Australia.
Advanced Nanomaterials Characterisation Facility G.Owens, E. Lombie, K. Kirkbride, D. Chittleborough, T. Nann, J. van Leeuwen, A. Ellis, N. Voelker

Australian Research Council 


2016-2018 Establishment of a nanoparticulate facility for the high resolution separation and analysis of ultrafine environmental, geological and industrial particulates.

Research areas

  • Biogenesis of soils & landscapes: biopedology
  • Geochemistry and mineralogy of soils and regolith
  • Hydropedology
  • Weathering processes of soils
  • Landscape evolution
  • Paleosols: signatures of paleoclimates and paleoenvironments

Professor David Chittleborough's specialist areas of knowledge include mineralogy of clays by x-ray diffraction, analysis of organo-mineral complexes, soil survey and classification, mass balance techniques for analysis of soil and regolith development, nano- and micro-particulate separation by centrifugal methods e.g. sedimentation field-flow fractionation, disk centrifugation, optical petrology of soils, sediments and regolith.

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