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Earth Systems Research Projects


Integral to the Frontiers Abroad experience is the conceptualization, development, research and completion of a robust and innovative semester-long study. Projects are developed throughout the five-week field camp, and carried out in full throughout the semester on campus. Past Earth Systems students have studied topics ranging from marine biology to indigenous land management to water quality analysis. Due to the inherently interdisciplinary nature of Earth Systems, the sky is the limit when it comes to finding a key question or topic that piques your interest!

Student research projects take on an individual style, giving each student ownership of his or her research. In the early stages of project development Frontiers Abroad acts as the role of mentor, assisting in the overall design and approach to answering the research question.

Data collection and fieldwork is primarily done in the designated research week (the final week of field camp), with data analysis, laboratory work, etc. completed during term. Running in parallel with individual student research projects is a designated research course, which introduces students to valuable techniques, software (i.e. GIS, Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator), analysis (i.e. XRF, XRD, thin sections, stable isotopes), literature review, and critical review processes.

Research projects are submitted in a standardized journal format. In the past, research projects have resulted in publications in international journals and presentations at AGU and GSA, indicating research at the highest levels.

Past Research Projects

Spring 2014 – University of Canterbury

Lillian Toaspern
How Intensive Farming Practices Affect Nitrate Levels in Groundwater Wells: a Case Study of Well L36/0200  download pdf

Carolyn Messer
An analysis of the urban heat island effect in Christchurch, New Zealand:Comparing the temperature gradient in 1979 to 2014  download pdf

Megan Euclide
The Potential of Macrophyte Reestablishment in Te Waihora/ Lake Ellesmere  download pdf

Bridgit Reeve
An analysis of osprey migration patterns turbulence in the planetary boundary layer download pdf

Eric Romano
Baseline Analysis of Stable Isotope Signatures of Zooplankton found off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand download pdf

Zach Gordon
Identification of Tuff Rings in the Auckland Volcanic Field Using LiDAR and Ground Penetrating Radar – download pdf

Elizabeth Hanson
Identification of Tuff Rings in the Auckland Volcanic Field Using LiDAR and Ground Penetrating Radar – download pdf

Delger Erdenesanaa
Identification of Tuff Rings in the Auckland Volcanic Field Using LiDAR and Ground Penetrating Radar – download pdf

Nola Shi
Identification of Tuff Rings in the Auckland Volcanic Field Using LiDAR and Ground Penetrating Radar – download pdf

Chris Nelsen
Identification of Tuff Rings in the Auckland Volcanic Field Using LiDAR and Ground Penetrating Radar – download pdf

Cameron Adams
Identification of Tuff Rings in the Auckland Volcanic Field Using LiDAR and Ground Penetrating Radar – download pdf

Fall 2013 – University of Canterbury

Collin Owen (with Megan Anderson, Liam Bartholemuesz, and Yixuan Guo)
Volunteering in Lyttelton: Impacts and Encouraging Greater Participation – download pdf

Ben Josef (with Zach Bethell, Jimmy Harris, Anna Walker, and Aimee Woodruff)
The Integration of Restoration Options for Ecological and Recreational Resources in Summer – download pdf

Charlie Fleshe (Ryan Brosnahan, Matt Lagan, Katie Nagy, and Christina Tse)
Developing Food Resilience in Early Childhood Educaiton: A Lyttelton Harbour Basin Example – download pdf


2013 – University of Auckland

Cameron Adams
Identification of Tuff Rings in the Auckland Volcanic Field Using LiDAR and Ground Penetrating Radar – download pdf

Eleanor Beckwith
Heavy Metal Absorption in Okahu Bay Sediment – download pdf

Hannah Tannenbaum
Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses of Diversity and Richness of Taonga Species in Rangataua Bay, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand – download pdf

Hannah Tennent
Using Vibracore to Assess Sediments in Rangataua Bay, North Island, New Zealand – download pdf

John Stockman
Effects of antifouling paint and particle size on metal concentrations in Okahu Bay – download pdf

Julia Clark
It’s the Lagoon! Using the Mauri Model to Understand the Impacts of Natural and Anthropogenic Changes to Te Awa o Te Atua Lagoon in Matata, New Zealand Over the Past Century – download pdf

Nicholas Kraus
Indigenous Maori Values in Kawerau, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand: Assessing Environmental, Cultural, Social, and Economic Impacts of the Te Ahi O Maui Geothermal Project Using the Mauri Model – download pdf

Robert Ventura
Examining the Effects of Marina Pollution and Boatyard Filtration in Sediment: Okahu Bay, Auckland, New Zealand – download pdf


2012 – University of Canterbury

Paris Achenbach
Investigation of Longfin and Shortfin Freshwater Eels from the Tarawera River, New Zealand: What can Otoliths tell us about their Migratory Patterns and Lifespan? – download pdf

Zachary Benedetto 
Rebuilding Christchurch Using Green Roof Technology: Potential Energy, Financial and Environmental Benefits – download pdf

Anne Bond
Predicting the Past:  Using Liquefaction Maps and Archaeological Records to Determine how Previous Seismic Activity was Felt – download pdf

Brendan Grayson-Wallace
Small-Scale Hydroelectric Power Generation Potential: A Case Study of Washpen Falls – download pdf

Sarah Hardy
Modeling Surface Water/Groundwater Interactions of The Waimakariri River, New Zealand – download pdf

Laura Haynes
Speleothem Stable Isotopic Record from Metro Cave, North Westland, New Zealand for Analysis of Southern Hemispheric Response to Holocene North Atlantic Deglacial Events – download pdf

Lisa Sulenes
Investigation of Climate Variability in The Southwest Tropical Pacific Using Stable Isotopes from the East Timor Speleothem – download pdf

Chelsey Talhelm
Temporal Variability in the Isotopic Composition of a Single Meteoric Event in Christchurch, New Zealand – download pdf

Derek Vill
Using Refractometer Data to Compare Nutrition of New Zealand Grown Produce With Imports – download pdf


2012 – University of Auckland

Nate Blanks
Using the Mauri Model to Compare the Effects of Forestry and Geothermal on Central North Island (CNI) Iwi Within the CNI Forest Collective of 2008 – download pdf

Casey Brady-Gold
Norske Skog Industrial Waste Effect On Water And Sediment Quality – download pdf

Gregory Dietz
Trends in Concentrations of Inorganics at Norske Skog Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill Solid Waste Site – download pdf

Alana Dingman
Testing the Solid Waste Leachate and Water Quality of the Norske Skog Pulp and Paper Mill in Kawerau, New Zealand to Investigate Industrial Contamination of the Surrounding Surface Water and Groundwater – download pdf

Charlotte Hatch
Assessment of volcanic impacts of 186 A.D. Taupo eruption on current infrastructure of the Rangitaiki Plains, New Zealand – download pdf

Hannah Kaplan
Applications of GIS: Assessing the Mauri of The Tarawera River Catchment, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand – download pdf

Risalat Khan
A Mauri-Model Analysis of Remediation Methods of Industrial Waste from the Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill In Kawerau, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand – download pdf

Jonas Kwok
Sustainability of Lower Rangitaiki River Eel Fishery: Assessment of Historic Anthropogenic Impacts Using the Mauri Model – download pdf

Andrea Mikol
Heavy metal contamination within Okahu Bay of Auckland, New Zealand – download pdf

Olivia Platia
Using the Mauri Model to Assess the Impact of the Rena Grounding on the Mauri of the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand – download pdf

Megan Richardson
The analysis of cation and anion trends from soil and water samples at the Norske Skog Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill dump site in Kawerau, New Zealand – download pdf

Abigail Smith
Restoring the Mauri to Te tehuna o rangataua bay: Impact of Wastewater treatment plant and land clearance on shellfish abundance and Mauri – download pdf

Talia Steiger
Impacts of the Rena shipwreck on the mauri (life-giving force) of Motiti Island, New Zealand – download pdf

Caitlin Elizabeth von Stein
Determining Areal Extent of AD 186 Taupo Eruption and Post Eruption Sediment in the Rangitaiki Plains, New Zealand – download pdf


2011 – University of Auckland

Hannah Griesbach and Janka Lovering
An Analysis and Comparison of the Response Spectra Records from the 4 September, 2010 Darfield Earthquake and the 22 February, 2011 Port Hills Earthquake to Building Code NZS1170.5 using SPECTRA Software – download pdf

Jesse Spafford
Shaken: A Qualitative, Diachronic Report on how a Major Seismic Event Impacts a Study Abroad Program – download pdf

Tara Seely
Impact of the September 4, 2010 Canterbury Earthquake on Nitrogen and Chloride Concentrations in Groundwater – download pdf

Cailly Howell
Determining the Concentration of Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Zinc Cations Leached from Solid Waste Generated by the Norske Skog Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill under Varying pH Conditions – download pdf

Sophie Hyson
Determining Tectonic Hazards in Whakatane Using Ground Penetrating Radar and Sediment Grain Size Analysis – download pdf

Rachel Lupien
Determining the Makeup of the Highly Reflective Crust layer on White Island, New Zealand through the uses of Ground Penetrating Radar – download pdf

Annie Tran
Restoring the Mauri to Kopeopeo Canal: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge with Bioremediation and the Mauri Model – download pdf

Alena Chubet
An Indepth Case Study of a Prograded Barrier using GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) at Papamoa Beach (BoP), New Zealand – download pdf


2010 – University of Auckland

Erin Camp
Documenting the Natural and Anthropogenic to Te Awa o Te Atua during the Past 100 Years – download pdf

Brian Peacock
Treatment wetland placement and preliminary design by geospatial analysis:  A case study of the Tarawera Watershed – download pdf

Jamie Shannon
Water Quality of the Tarawera River: A Pollutant Input Analysis of the Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill – download pdf

Rebecca Pryor
A Kaitiaki Approach to Geothermal Development: Encompassing the Maori Worldview in New Zealand’s Growing Renewable Energy Industry – download pdf

Matt Zwingraf
Coastal sediment provenance and transport due to faulting in the Bay of Plenty, NZ – download pdf


2009 – University of Auckland

Adam Curry
Using GPR to Understand Active Faults: A case study from the Whakatane Graben, New Zealand – download pdf

Franklin Dekker
Hot Pursuit of Rangitaiki Plains Subsidence, Measured by Buried Beach Facies – download pdf

Dietrich Hoefner
Geospatial Analysis of the Tarawera River Catchment – download pdf

Henry Fandel
Rangitaiki Plains Hot Pursuit:  Searching for Faults in the Whakatane Graben – download pdf

Ashley McCoy
Abundance of Macro-organisms on Pneumatophores at Matapouri Estuary – download pdf

Alex Mednick
The Norske Skog Waste Site Eastern Embankment: How Well it is Functioning and what if it Fails – download pdf

Swaroop Raju
The Organization of Plankton within Matapouri Estuary, northern New Zealand – download pdf

Leslie Raucher
Using Ground Penetrating Radar to Locate Buried Metal Drums in a Pulp and Paper Mill Dump Site – download pdf

Ben Scharadin
MAC Curve Analysis at the Norske Skog Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill, Kawerau, New Zealand download pdf

Josh Verkerke
Examining Sources of Energy and Nutrient Input From Different Microhabitats Within Matapouri Estuary (New Zealand) – download pdf

Lena Wolfe
Concentrations of Selected Ions in Groundwater at Tasman Pulp and Paper Waste Site – download pdf


2008 – University of Auckland

Evan Frye
An Eels Journey: Source Point Analysis of the Tarawera River Bay of Plenty, New Zealand – download pdf

Steve Hochman
The Western Whakatane Graben: What’s Up? – download pdf

Adam Kotin
Environmental Guardianship in a Changing World: Case Studies from the Bay of Plenty Region, New Zealand – download pdf

Tim Lambert
Plant Establishment following Debris Flows in Two Stream Valleys Matata, New Zealand – download pdf

Mindi Summer
Ground Penetrating Radar as an Investigative Tool: Exploring Human-Modified to Natural Environments – download pdf