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Dr Thomas Stieglitz

Thomas Stieglitz.jpg

Senior Research Fellow
Oceanography Research Group - TropWATER

EU FP7 Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow, visiting at Laboratoire des sciences de l'environnement marin, Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer, Plouzané, France, 2011-2013.

Environmental Consultant, School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, James Cook University, 2009-2011

AIMS@JCU Research Fellow, School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, James Cook University, 2007-2009

Coastal CRC Research Fellow, School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, James Cook University, 2005-2007

ARC Postdoctoral Fellow School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, James Cook University, 2002-2005

PhD Biogeography, University of Trier, Germany, 2002

BA Economics, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 1997

MSc Physics, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 1996

BSc Physics, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 1990

Phone: +33 (0) 2 98 49 86 54

Research Interests

I call myself a biogeophysicist (similar to biogeochemist, just physics instead of chemistry), and work on physical processes in the coastal environment. My main research interests are land-ocean interaction and submarine groundwater discharge (SGD), marine seafloor habitats & animal-habitat interaction. I have for example worked on the role water fluxes through animal burrows in mangrove ecosystems play in the wellbeing of mangrove trees, and in the export of water and solutes from mangroves to the coastal zone. I have also demonstrated that submarine groundwater discharge can be an important process contributing to hydrological land-ocean connectivity of the coast and the nearshore zone of the Great Barrier Reef. As a physicist-at-heart, development of new tools and methods to understand these processes are an important part of my work.  Over the years I have developed and used various techniques, for example electric ground conductivity, radionuclide mass balances, acoustic mapping or long-term autonomously logging flow meters, to identify preferential flow paths of SGD on various spatial and temporal scales, and in a variety of coastal settings. In addition to this research direction, I am studying the role of marine habitats in seafloor ecology, using primarily acoustic tools, i.e. acoustic bathymetry mapping and acoustic animal telemetry. Some of the latter work has been carried out on behalf of AIMS, and was targeted at the management of the Great Barrier Reef, as well as commercially oriented work (scientific consulting). In a recent project, we studied the relationship of large stingrays with the shipwreck of the Yongala.

From mid-2011 to mid-2013, I am visiting the Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer as a European Union ‘International Incoming Fellow’. I am primarily working on Mexico’s Yucatan coastline, studying ecological effects of coastal groundwater discharge, specifically investigating the use of a groundwater-fed habitat by an economically important marine snail, the queen conch. I also continue to work on SGD in Australia and on France’s shorelines. As part of this cross-disciplinary work, I have chaired a research conference on hydrological-ecological interaction in the coastal zone ( in September 2012.

Recent Research Projects

  • Land-Ocean Connectivity - from Hydrological to Ecological Understanding of Groundwater in the Coastal Zone. European Union FP7 Marie Curie Program
  • Groundwater fluxes in the coastal zone in Southern Brittany. European Marine Science Application Consortium  EMSAC ( European Union FP7).
  • The Yongala's Halo of Holes - Who's digging it? AIMS@JCU, IMOS / AATAMS & Ian Potter Foundation


Selected Publications

Book chapters

Stieglitz TC. 2012. The Yongala’s Halo of Holes – Systematic Bioturbation Close to a Shipwreck. In: Harris PT & Baker EK (eds): Seafloor Geomorphology as Benthic Habitat: GeoHab Atlas of seafloor geomorphic features and benthic habitats, Elsevier Insights, ISBN 978-0-12-385140-6.

Stieglitz T, 2011. Submarine Groundwater Discharge. In: Hopley D (ed) Encyclopaedia of Modern Coral Reefs, Springer Verlag, ISBN: 978-90-481-2640-8, p 1052.

Clark JT & Stieglitz T 2007. Isotope & Tracer Techniques. In: Zekster I, Dzhamalov D & Everett LG (eds.) Submarine Groundwater, CRC Press, Boca Raton, p 110-117.


Journal Articles

Stieglitz TC, Clark JF & Hancock, G. The mangrove pump: the tidal flushing of animal burrows in a tropical mangrove forest determined from radionuclide budgets, in print. Geochimica Cosmochimica Actae

Renagi O, Ridd P & Stieglitz T 2010. Sediment Export from the Markham River, Papua New Guinea. Continental Shelf Research 30, 1030-1041. doi:10.1016/j.csr.2010.01.015.

Stieglitz TC, Cook PG & Burnett WC 2010. Inferring Coastal Processes from Regional-scale Mapping of 222Radon and Salinity – Examples from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Journal for Environmental Radioactivity 101, 544-552. doi:10.1016/j.jenvrad.2009.11.012

Zieger S, Stieglitz T & Kinimonth S 2009. Biotic Classification of a Coral Reef Using Spatial Pattern Recognition from Multibeam Bathymetric Sonar Data. Marine Geology 264, 209-217.

Stieglitz T, Rapaglia J & Bokuniewicz H 2008. Estimation of submarine groundwater discharge from bulk ground electrical conductivity measurements. Journal of Geophysical Research 113, C08007. doi:10.1029/2007JC004499.

Fass T, Cook P, Stieglitz T & Herczeg A 2007. Development of Saline Ground Water through Transpiration of Sea Water. Groundwater. doi 10.1111/j.1745-658.4.2007.00344.x

Hancock G, Webster I & Stieglitz T 2006 Horizontal Mixing of Great Barrier Reef Waters: Offshore Diffusivity Determined from Radium Isotope Distribution. Journal of Geophysical Research 111, C12019, doi:10.1029/2006JC003608.

Burnett WC, Aggarwal PK, Bokuniewicz H, Cable JE, Charette MA, Kontar E, Krupa S, Kulkarni KM, Loveless A, Moore WS, Oberdorfer JA, Oliveira J, Ozyurt N, Povinec P, Privitera AMG, Rajar R, Ramessur RT, Scholten J, Stieglitz T, Taniguchi M, Turner JV 2006. Quantifying Submarine Groundwater Discharge in the Coastal Zone via Multiple Methods. Science of the Total Environment 367: 498-543.

Stieglitz T 2005. Submarine Groundwater Discharge into the near-shore zone of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin 51:51-59.

Stieglitz T & Ridd PV 2001. Trapping of Mangrove Propagules due to Density-driven Secondary Circulation in the Normanby River Estuary, N.E. Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 211:131-142.

Stieglitz T, Ridd PV & Müller P 2000. Passive Irrigation and Functional Morphology of Crustacean Burrows in a Tropical Mangrove Swamp. Hydrobiologia 421:69-76.



Cappo M, Stowar M, Stieglitz T, Lawrey E, Johansson C & Macneil A 2012. Measuring and communicating effects of MPAs on deep "shoal" fisheries. ISBN 978-0-9808572-5-2. Proceedings of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium In: 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, 9-13 July 2012, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

Cook PG, Lamontagne S, Stieglitz TC, Cranswick R & Hancock G 2012. A re-evaluation of groundwater discharge from the Burdekin floodplain aquifer using geochemical tracers. National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, Report to Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, 105 pp.

Chávez Villegas JF, Noguez Núñez M, Enríquez Díaz M, Gameros Escoto F, Estrada Saldívar N, Stieglitz T, Amice E & Aldana Aranda D. 2012. Ecoetología del caracol rosa (Strombus gigas) en Xel-Há, Quintana Roo, México. Proc. Gulf Carib. Fish. Inst. Vol 64.

Stieglitz T. 2011. Impact of Cyclone Yasi on the Shipwreck of SS Yongala, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Report to Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, 24 pages.

Negri A, Speare P, Berkelmans R, Stieglitz T, Botting R, Stowar M, Smith S, Steinberg C, Brinkman R, Heron M & Doherty P, 2010. Douglas Shoal Ship Grounding Survey: Habitat Damage Monitoring using Multibeam Sonar and Towed Video Assessments. Final Report to Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, 33 pp + appendices.

Fry G, Heyward A, Wassenberg T, Taranto T, Stieglitz T & Colquhoun J 2008. Benthic habitat surveys of potential LNG hub locations in the Kimberley region, 67 pp plus electronic data appendices.

McCauley RD, Siwabessy PJ, Gavrilov AN, Woods A, Parnum I, Duncan A, Penrose JD, Perry M, Thomas F, Stieglitz T, Parsons M & Smith A 2006. Coastal Water Habitat Mapping Shallow Water Assessment Technologies – Final Subproject Report. Report to Coastal CRC, 58pp.

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