Dr Lorna Jane Strachan

BSc(Hons) (Leeds), PhD (Cardiff and Imperial College)

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Senior Lecturer


Lorna is a Senior Lecturer of Sedimentology whose research focuses on understanding the way in which sediment moves and is deposited in the deep ocean. She is a prominent researcher in the fields of turbidity currents and soft-sediment deformation, where her publications are highly cited.  Along with her international and national collaborators, she has conducted research into understanding submarine slope dynamics and processes from tectonically active and passive margins around the world.  Her research is multi-disciplinary integrating modern seafloor bathymetry and core data, with ancient outcrop and seismic data, and experimental flume modelling.  To date, Lorna has supervised more than 49 post-graduate student projects (43 to completion and 6 in prorgress) whilst at the University of Auckland.

Research | Current

My research focuses on deep marine sedimentary processes on submarine slopes and involves a combined approach, using field and seismic data together with some experimental modelling.  In particular, I am interested in how gravity flows on slopes move, be it via slumping, sliding, debris flow, turbidity current or other flow type.

To directly download some of my papers, please click here: http://aucklanduni.academia.edu/LornaStrachan

Teaching | Current

Sedimentology is a dynamic and widely applied science concerned with understanding physical and chemical processes acting on the surface of the earth in complex and diverse environments.

It is an interdisciplinary subject incorporating many Earth Science disciplines including palaeontology, geomorphology, structural geology, geochemistry, geophysics and petrology, not to mention elements of physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering.

I am passionate about sedimentology and I hope that this transfers through my teaching. I teach sedimentology on the following courses:

  • EARTHSCI 754  Sedimentary Processes
  • EARTHSCI  303 Palaeo-sedimentary environments
  • EARTHSCI  202 Earth History

If you take sedimentology from stages 2 upwards expect there to be a strong field and research component.  It is my belief that fieldwork is the most important place to teach many of the concepts we learn in the classroom.

Postgraduate supervision

Current postgraduate students


Francisco Saldaña-Monroy (Current) "Description and comparison of ancient and recent deep-sea ichnostructures". Co-supervised with Kathy Campbell.

Melissa Craig (Current) "Dynamics and deposits of submarine sediment gravity flows affected by biological and physico-chemical cohesion". Based at the University of Adelaide and jointly supervised with Kathryn Amos (Adelaide) and Jaco Baas (Bangor).

Michael Macnaughtan (Current) "A quantitative seismic analysis of the fluid and pressure regime on the
southern Hikurangi Subduction Margin".
Co-supervised with Ingo Pecher.


Anthony Shorrock (2020-2021) "How have Hikurangi margin gravity flow processes evolved from the Pleistocene to recent? Insights from IODP expedition 375, Hole U1520". Co-supervised with Phil Barnes (NIWA) and Helen Bostock (UQ).

Francelino Conceicao (2021-2022) "Geophysical Characterisation and Modelling of Metamorphic and Sedimentary Units in East Timor: Insight into Tectonic and Basin Evolution". Co-supervised with Jennifer Eccles and Brendan Duffy (University of Melbourne)

Alex Caldwell (2021-2022) "Seismic Reflection Investigation of Monogenetic Volcanic Architecture and Plumbing: West Ngatatura, New Zealand". Co-supervised with Jennifer Eccles and Alan Bischoff (University of Canterbury)

BSc Honours

Keagan Bradley (2021) "Slope evolution of the North Bounty Trough using 2D seismic reflection data". Co-supervised Suzanne Bull and Jess Hillman (GNS).

Past students

  • Alysha Jones (2020) "Sedimentary processes and evolution in a drowned river valley: Queen Charlotte Sound". Co-supervised Marta Ribó and Sally Watson (NIWA).
  • Declan Andrew (2020) "Gas Hydrates of the Hikurangi Margin: a Geophysical Approach". Co-supervised with Ingo Pecher.
  • Sian Camp (2020) MSc "Understanding sedimentary processes on the Hawke bay continental slope."  Co-supervised with Katie Maier and Geoffroy Lamarche (NIWA).
  • Thomas Stolberger (2020) MSc "A paleoenvironmental and paleoecological reconstruction of a Lower Miocene coastal environment at Mathesons Bay". Co-supervised with Kathy Campbell.
  • Emily Twort (2019) BSc Honours "Analysis of deep marine active sedimentary processes within mini basins on the Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand" Co-supervised with Geoffroy Lamarche and Katie Maier (NIWA).
  • Anthony Shorrock (2019) BSc Honours "Active Sedimentary Processes in a detached canyon, Adelie Bank, Antarctic ." Co-supervised with Helen Bostock (NIWA/UQ)
  • Etienne Albouy (2019) Intern "Facies analysis of seidmentary rocks in the Marobo Basin, Timor Leste". Co-supervised with Brendan Duffy (University of Melbourne)
  • Abigail Willis (2019) Intern "Ichnology of the Kaikõura co-seismic turbidite".
  • Thibault Romao (2019) Intern "Active Sedimentary Processes in slope canyons Adelie Bank, Antarctic ." Co-supervised with Helen Bostock (NIWA)
  • Joshua Malone (2019) Intern "Sedimentological characteristics of the Kaikoura 2016 event bed".
  • Michael Macnaughtan (2019) MSc "Gas Hydrates of the Hikurangi Margin: a Geophysical Approach". Co-supervised with Ingo Pecher.
  • Monique McKeown (2018) MSc "Understanding the physical sedimentology of the Madden continental slope distributary systems". Co-supervised with Alan Orpin (NIWA) and Ingo Pecher.
  • Aratrika Ganguly (2018) MSc "Understanding the Hikurangi Channel distributary pathway". Co-supervised with Helen Bostock (NIWA).
  • Ryan Lunenburg (2017) MSc"Characterization of sedimentary gravity flows in the Tuaheni Canyon, Poverty Bay, New Zealand".  Co-supervised with Alan Orpin (NIWA).
  • Giovani Pradel (2017) MSc "Gas Hydrates of the Taranaki Basin: a Geophysical Approach". Co-supervised with Ingo Pecher.
  • Michael Macnaughtan (2017) BSc (Hons) "A Paleo-oceanographic reconstruction of Northland using seismic stratigraphy of volcanics and contourites". Co-supervised with Steve Johnston and Mila Adam.
  • Simon Banks (2017) BSc (Hons) "Sedimentology and distributary channels of the Cook system". Co-supervised with Phil Barnes (NIWA) and Ingo Pecher.
  • Marcus Trimble (2016) MSc "Compositional and microstructural controls on the seismic properties of the Waipawa and Whangai Formation organic-rich mudstones, East Coast Basin, New Zealand". Co-supervised with Mila Adam.
  • Lucas MacDonald (2016) MSc "Active seafloor processes of the Reinga-Northland basins, New Zealand". Co-supervised with Helen Neil (NIWA) and Ingo Pecher.
  • Shannon Hawkins (2016) MSc "Recent tectonic and stratigraphic evolution of the Reinga-Northland Basin, NZ". Co-supervised with Mila Adam and Peter King (GNS).
  • Matthew Jeromson (2016) MSc "The distribution and characteristics of turbidites in the Solander Trough, South of New Zealand". Co-supervised with Helen Bostock (NIWA) and Kathy Campbell.
  • David Commissaris (2015) BSc (Hons) "Sedimentary and Structural Characteristics of the Northland Allochthon and Pakiri Formation, Mahurangi Peninsula".
  • Ryan Lunenberg (2015) BSc (Hons) "An outcrop study of miocene Waitemata Group; Characterising Mass Transport Complexes and deposits, Mahurangi West".
  • Giovani Pradel (2015) BSc (Hons) "A geophysical characteriztion of Waitemata Sediments at Mahurangi". Co-supervised with Jennifer Eccles.
  • Andy McNab (2015)  BSc (Hons) "Seismic Stratigraphy of the Southern Northland Basin: Insights from NIMITZ 3D".
  • Fiona Nagy  (2014) MSc "Characterisation of the mudstones associated with the Mount Messenger and Urenui formations, Taranaki, New Zealand". Co-supervised with Mila Adam.
  • Matthew Jerromson (2014) BSc (Hons)  "Sedimentary characteristics of a submarine channel levee, Upper Hikurangi Channel, NZ ". Co-supervised with Phil Barnes (NIWA) and Joshu Mountjoy (NIWA).

  • Brett Rip  (2014) BSc (Hons) "Canyon to channel processes and products Hikurangi Channel, NZ ". Co-supervised with Phil Barnes (NIWA) and Joshu Mountjoy (NIWA).

  • Christine Fildes (2013) PhD "Miocene megaturbidites of New Zealand: emplacement mechanics, hinterland characterisation and chronostratigraphic significance". A Turbidite Research Group funded project, jointly supervised with Bill McCaffrey, Rob Butler, Phil Shane and Peter Haughton . Now at Anadarko.
  • Cowan Nokes (2013) MSc "Sediment Transport and Dispersal on the North Canterbury Shelf, New Zealand". Co-supervised with Helen Bostock (NIWA) and Melissa Bowen. Now at Shell.

  • Penelope Lindsay (2013) MSc "Characterisation of hydrological and sedimentological properties of Mangawhai estuary, New Zealand". Co-supervised with Kathy Campbell and Melissa Bowen. Now at Tonkin & Taylor.

  • Colleen Hulbert (2013) MSc  "Modern estuarine habitats and organism-sediment interactions at Mangawhai Estuary, North Island, New Zealand". Co-supervised with Kathy Campbell.

  • Kate Waghorn (2013) MSc "Pockmarks on the Chatham Rise, New Zealand, and their relation to gas hydrate dissociation, sea level fluctuations and petroleum systems". Co-supervised with Ingo Pecher. Now at the University of Tromso.

  • Javier Alejandro Cañete Valdivia (2013) MSc "Fan-delta progradation following the 2008 eruption of Chaitén Volcano, Chile".  Co-supervised with Mark Dickson.

  • Ian Lee (2012) BSc HONS: "Turbidite channels and lateral accretion packages: an outcrop study of the Miocene Waitemata Group"
  • Matthew Gosling (2010) MSc: "A detailed sedimentological study of submarine turbidites from the Fiordland Margin to elucidate evidence of palaeoseismic events". In collaboration with NIWA. Jointly supervised with Helen Bostock, Phil Barnes (NIWA) and Mark Dickson. Now at Aurecon, NZ.
  • Sophie Milloy (2010) MSc: "Turbidite lobe development on an aggrading basin floor: an experimental and field investigation of Waitemata Basin clay rich turbidites". Jointly supervised with Heide Friedrich. Now at Contact Energy, NZ.
  • Theo Sangster (2010) MEng: "The effect of confinement on the depositional evolution of laboratory turbidity currents". Jointly supervised with Heide Friedrich.
  • Scott Nagel (2009) MSc: "An integrated outcrop, modeling and seismic investigation of Mass Transport Complexes from the Taranaki Basin, New Zealand" . In collaboration with GNS. Jointly supervised with Peter King (GNS) and John Cassidy. Now at the USGS, USA.
  • Christina Gilderdale (2008) MSc: Stratigraphy and Sedimentology of the East Coast Bays Formation: a case study from Auckland's North Shore. Completed in Feb 2009.
  • Stephen Johnston (2008) MSc: Seismic stratigraphy of the Northland Basin, New Zealand: Late Oligocene to recent .  Jointly supervised with John Cassidy. Completed in Feb 2009. Now at DownUnder Geosolutions, Australia.

Past Postdoctoral Research Fellow

  • Dr Tim Debacker (2010-2011, visiting fellow from University of Ghent) Collaborating on a number of projects including: Early features and magnetic fabrics in poorly deformed fine-grained siliciclastic rocks.

Summer scholarship Students and interns

Sean Crossen (2012) Characterizing basal Waitemata Basin strata: a sedimentological study. Now doing a MSc at the UoA.

Michelle Hulewicz (2012) Working on a range of sedimentlogical problems

Areas of expertise

Submarine slopes, slumps, debrites, turbidites, mass transport complexes, deep-marine processes, field-based sedimentology, experimental sedimentology and seismic interpretation

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Associate member, Turbidite Research Group (TRG)
  • Active member, The Rift Analogue Project (TRAP)
  • Member, International Association of Sedimentologists (IAS)
  • Member, American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
  • Member, Geological Society of New Zealand (GSNZ)
  • Auckland Branch representative, Geoscience Society of NZ
  • Member, New Zealand Integrated Ocean Drilling Program committee

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Waghorn, K. A., Pecher, I., Strachan, L. J., Crutchley, G., Bialas, J., Coffin, R., ... Papenberg, C. (2018). Paleo-fluid expulsion and contouritic drift formation on the Chatham Rise, New Zealand. Basin Research, 30 (1), 5-19. 10.1111/bre.12237
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/43833
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ingo Pecher
  • Duffy, B., Kalansky, J., Bassett, K., Harris, R., Quigley, M., van Hinsbergen, D. J. J., ... Rosenthal, Y. (2017). Mélange versus forearc contributions to sedimentation and uplift, during rapid denudation of a young Banda forearc-continent collisional belt. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 138, 186-210. 10.1016/j.jseaes.2017.02.008
  • Strachan, L. J., Bostock, H. C., Barnes, P. M., Neil, H. L., & Gosling, M. (2016). Non-cohesive silt turbidity current flow processes; insights from proximal sandy-silt and silty-sand turbidites, Fiordland, New Zealand. Sedimentary Geology, 342, 118-132. 10.1016/j.sedgeo.2016.06.017
  • Strachan, L. J., & Pyles, D. R. (2016). Evolving depocentre and slope: The Gull Island Formation. In J. L. Best, P. B. Wignall (Eds.) A field guide to the carboniferous sediments of the Shannon Basin, Western Ireland (pp. 174-239). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 10.1002/9781119257141.ch8
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/29359
  • Pyles, D. R., & Strachan, L. J. (2016). Architecture of a distributive submarine fan: The Ross Sandstone Formation. In J. L. Best, P. B. Wignall (Eds.) A field guide to the carboniferous sediments of the Shannon Basin, Western Ireland (pp. 112-173). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 10.1002/9781119257141.ch7
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/29357
  • Pyles, D. R., Strachan, L. J., & Jennette, D. C. (2014). Lateral juxtapositions of channel and lobe elements in distributive submarine fans: Three-dimensional outcrop study of the Ross Sandstone and geometric model. Geosphere, 10 (6), 1104-1122. 10.1130/GES01042.1
  • Roberts, R. C., Crossen, S. W., & Strachan, L. J. (2014). Underground Construction Challenges Associated with the Albany Conglomerate in Auckland. Paper presented at 15th Australasian Tunnelling Conference, Sydney, Sydney, Australia. 17 September - 19 September 2014. Proceedings of the 15th Australasian Tunnelling Conference. (pp. 13). Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/29402
  • Debacker, T. N., Verniers, J., Strachan, L. J., Dumon, M., & Belmans, M. (2014). Sedimentological thickness variations within Silurian mudstone-dominated turbidite deposits and the effects on cleavage fanning (Anglo-Brabant Deformation Belt, Belgium). Journal of the Geological Society, 171 (2), 193-209. 10.1144/jgs2013-031


Contact details

Alternative contact


University of Auckland

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
Level 4, Room 439
New Zealand

Web links