Dr Jon Francis Tunnicliffe

BA (Hons) (Western Ontario), MSc (Northern British Columbia), PhD (British Columbia)

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Senior Lecturer


I have been working on a range of geomorphic questions, since setting out to measure how much gravel spawning salmon could move, in Northern British Columbia rivers, in the late 90s. My main intrests are related to gravel-bed river morphodynamics and response to environmental change. My approach involves a balance of field work, laboratory and GIS analyses, as well numerical simulation. I am also interested in the application of geophysical instrumentation and numerical modelling to better understand the response of rivers to sedimentary disturbance.

I received my PhD from the University of British Columbia, worked at NIWA in Christchurch, and held a lecturing position at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada before coming to Auckland. I have worked in a range of environments from West Africa to Canada's far North to New Zealand's South Island.

Research | Current

My principal interest is the elaboration of sediment budgets in earth surface systems, particularly rivers, at timescales ranging from decades to millennia (Holocene scale). This work has led me to engage with a range of approaches, including (i) numerical modelling and (ii) field geophysics and monitoring. I am also interested in (iii) the management implications of our understanding of sediment budgets and surface processes.

Some of my research sites have included Chilliwack Valley (British Columbia, CAN), the Waitaki River (New Zealand), the Peel Plateau (Northwest Territories, CAN), and - most recently - the west coast catchments of the Coromandel Peninsula and East Cape (NZ).

Current projects include assessing long-term rates of delta growth on the Firth of Thames (Western Coromandel) and the impacts of landsliding regime on river morphology (East Cape).

Teaching | Current

GEOG 260 Field Studies in Earth Surface Processes

GEOG 262 (Coordinator), Geomorphology and Landscape Development

GEOG 330 Research methods in Physical Geography

GEOG 331 (Coordinator), Fluvial Geomorphology

GEOL 713 Tectonic Geomorphology

GEOG 745  Applied Fluvial Geomorphology



Areas of expertise

Fluvial geomorphology, sediment transport in gravel bed rivers, river hydraulics, sediment budgets, environmental geophysics

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Academic Liason, IPENZ Rivers Group

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.
  • Leenman, A., & Tunnicliffe, J. F. (2018). Genesis of a major gully mass-wasting complex, and implications for valley filling, East Cape, New Zealand. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 130 (7-8), 1121-1130. 10.1130/B31849.1
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/42232
  • Tunnicliffe, J., Brierley, G., Fuller, I. C., Leenman, A., Marden, M., & Peacock, D. (2018). Reaction and relaxation in a coarse-grained fluvial system following catchment-wide disturbance. Geomorphology, 307, 50-64. 10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.11.006
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gary Brierley
  • Kokelj, S. V., Lantz, T. C., Tunnicliffe, J., Segal, R., & Lacelle, D. (2017). Climate-driven thaw of permafrost preserved glacial landscapes, northwestern Canada. Geology, 45 (4), 371-374. 10.1130/G38626.1
  • Walley, Y., Tunnicliffe, J., & Brierley, G. (2017). The influence of network structure upon sediment routing in two disturbed catchments, East Cape, New Zealand. Geomorphology10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.10.029
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gary Brierley
  • Tunnicliffe, J., & Brierley, G. (2016). Sediment regime and river morphodynamics. Oxford Bibliographies10.1093/obo/9780199363445-0061
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/38351
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gary Brierley
  • Tunnicliffe, J. F., & Church, M. (2015). A 1-D morphodynamic model of postglacial valley incision. Journal of Geophysical Research F: Earth Surface, 120 (11), 2253-2279. 10.1002/2014JF003370
  • Kokelj, S. V., Tunnicliffe, J., Lacelle, D., Lantz, T. C., Chin, K. S., & Fraser, R. (2015). Increased precipitation drives mega slump development and destabilization of ice-rich permafrost terrain, northwestern Canada. Global and Planetary Change, 129, 56-68. 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2015.02.008


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 7, Room 749
New Zealand

Web links