Associate Professor Geoffroy Lamarche

PhD University Grenoble France

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Honorary Academic


Geoffroy Lamarche graduated with a PhD from the University of Grenoble, in 1987, after which he undertook a post-doctoral year at Victoria Unversity of Wellington. He returned to New Zealand in 1990 to work as a geophysicist at (the then) DSIR Geology and Geophysics. In 1992, he joined the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développment, in Nice to work on the French-New Zealand marine research program GeodyNZ. He was posted in New Zealand to work on the Fiordland-Puysegur-Macquarie subduction system and the Hikurangi Margin. In 1996, he returned to France to work on the tectonic deformation in the Mediterranean Sea and Cote d'Ivoire margin.

He joined NIWA in 1998, where he leads the Marine Geological Processes and Resources programme. His present work focuses on the deformation that affects the seafloor using remote sensing data, including seismic reflection, seafloor backscatter and water column imaging. One key research project is on building a record of past earthquakes along the Hikurangi margin using the sedimentological record. Geoffroy has led projects in the Southwest Pacific region, Europe, USA and Australia. He has been chief scientist on several geophysical voyages in high seas around New Zealand on New Zealand flagship R.V. Tangaroa and other foreign vessels.

Research | Current

G. Lamarche's research focuses on the geological and tectonic processes that affect the seafloor, in particular those associated with the active plate boundary. His research considers the marine environment at large and is developed along with benthic ecologists, biologists, and physical oceanographers. His research include :  

  • Active geological processes affecting the seafloor. This is about characterizing the geological deformation associated with the Pacific-Australia plate boundary from its impact on the seafloor and sub-seafloor. 
  • Large submarine landslides. Understanding the modalities of emplacement, triggering mechanisms and timing of some of the world largest submarine landslides that occurr along the Hikurangi Margin. The work focuses on the Ruatoria Debris Avalanche, east of East Cape and the Matakaoa Instability Complex, north of East Cape
  • Natural marine geological hazards. Identification and characterisation of active faults offshore, use of turbidites records as proxy for building paleoseismic records, and the impact of tsunami on coastal regions; work has focused on the very dense system of normal faults that accommodate extension in the Bay of Plenty
  • Geological resources formation and deposition. New Zealand seafloor host a wealth or geological resources, from Seafloor Massive Sulfides (SMS), nodules and Manganese crust. Understanding their formation, location is key to properly manage their possible extraction. Also of huge importance is to understand the potential impact of the mining activity. Geoffroy's research in this area includes the identification of active and inactive hydrothermal systems with SMS and the development of an NZ-specific Environmental Impact Assessment template for marine mining
  • Predictive habitat mapping with the aim to develop quantitative procedures to routinely and objectively characterize seafloor substrate, habitat and biodiversity using remotely sensed data. Geoffroy specializes in using the backscatter signal from multibeam echosounder as a proxy for seafloor substrate. The work includes predictive habitat mapping in Cook Strait and the Marlborough Sounds, active geomorphology in the Bay of Plenty, and the relationship between the backscatter signal of multibeam echosounders and the substrate  

I use and develop marine geophysical tools and equipment - most often deployed from high-seas vessels, such as: 

  • Multichannel seismic reflection - from processing to interpretation
  • High and very-high frequency seismic reflection (e.g., sea bottom profilers, CHIRP)
  • Multibeam echosounders bathymetry and seafloor backscatter data 
  • Water-column imaging data
  • Geopotential (magnetics, gravity)

The work involves the acquisition, processing, and interpretation of seismic and multibeam echosounder (bathymetry and backscatter) data.

Large, detailed dataset are still in need to be utilized to better understand these environments.
Please contact me if you want to discuss MSc or PhD project opportunities in any of these areas. 


Postgraduate supervision

Candidate interested in a PhD or MSc project on topics related to those listed above should contact me. I am specifically seeking outstanding candidates with a recognised Honours (for MSc) or MSc (for PhD) degrees in marine geosciences or related topic to engage in one of the following research projects: 

  • The candidate will be mostly posted at NIWA Wellington
  • Competitively-based scholarships for academically excellent PhD candidates are available to support the research or other secure funding required

more information on PostGrad at UoA can be found here (click on project title for more details)

►► MSc student research opportunity in New Zealand – marine habitat mapping (MSc)

*** 2 Years Fully Funded **  DEAD LINE FOR APPLICATION IS 15 August 2019 

See full advert here

The Kapiti Marine Reserve mapping group (Assoc.-Prof Geoffroy Lamarche of NIWA/University of Auckland, Dr. Shane Geange of the Department of Conservation and Prof. Jonathan Gardner of Victoria University of Wellington) has an opportunity for a Masters-level student to carry out independent research on the large geophysical and biogenic habitat dataset that we have collected around Kapiti Island, including its associated marine reserve.

The aim of the MSc project is to produce a series of targeted habitat and habitat suitability maps, with associated uncertainties, inside and outside of the marine reserve.

The ideal candidate will have an interest in seafloor mapping and an appropriate undergraduate degree. Students with a 3-year BSc degree will be enrolled in the 2-year MSc programme, whilst students with BSc Honours (or equivalent) will be enrolled in the 1-year MSc by thesis programme. You will have experience of processing large data sets and an understanding of how such data sets may be used to provide new insights into how geophysical properties of the seafloor may contribute to biological complexity. Knowledge of Geographical Information System (GIS - ArcGIS, QGIS) would be helpful.

The research environment – For the second year of the MSc you will be based at NIWA’s Greta Point campus.

Total value – The Scholarship comprises a $27,000 stipend, plus $9,000 tuition fees per annum for two years. International students other than those from Australia will be liable to pay the difference between the full international student fee and the domestic fee.

How to apply – Enrolling as a Master’s student and applying for this research opportunity are two separate processes. Applicants should send a letter of application addressing their suitability for the research opportunity, an academic transcript, CV and contacts for two referees to Geoffroy Lamarche Successfully applying for this opportunity is conditional upon the recipient gaining enrolment as a Master’s student at either the University of Auckland or Victoria University of Wellington.

Closing date for applications – Applications close 15 August. No late applications will be accepted.

For more information please contact one of the following person:  ;  ;

​►► Quantitative ocean water-column imaging using acoustic backscatter data (PhD)

This project aims at characterising the origin of acoustic flares observed in water-column echosounder echograms. Such flares originate from gas/oil bubbles, oil leaks, sediment plumes, vegetation/zooplankton, fresh water springs and variations in oceanographic layers. The objectives of the project are (1) the development of methodologies and procedures for water-column imaging, (2) the application of the methodology to a specific natural environment where active hydrothermal and/or methane seeps occur in New Zealand. 

This project is part of an international consortium of research organisations from New Zealand (NIWA, University of Auckland), France (Géosciences Rennes, IFREMER), Germany (GEOMAR), Australia (IMAS), Belgium (FPS Economy) and USA (CCOM-University of New Hampshire) (more info here). The consortium is making available a series of datasets from varying origins that afford a fantastic opportunity to test and validate hypothesis and methods. 

A 3-week research oceanographic voyage on board New Zealand Research Vessel Tangaroa is funded and programmed for July 2018; the successful candidate will be expected to participate in the survey. 

►► Spatial and temporal evolution of an arc-back-arc system (PhD)

The aim of the project is to improve our understanding of the tectonic and volcanic characteristics of volcanic system, including arc – back arc evolution, magmatic modes (dyking, explosive and effusive volcanism), tectonic control on volcanism and the generation of new crust. A large amount of modern and legacy geophysical data is available for the project, including bathymetry and backscatter data; multiple multi-channel seismic reflection profiles across the rift extending more than 200 km north of New Zealand, and closely spaced 2D profiles covering Brothers Volcano. These data provide a fantastic opportunity to further develop our understanding of the history and processes of back-arc rifting including active hydrothermalism. A number of dedicated processing, interpretation and visualization software will be available including ArcGIS®, Fledermaus®, KingdomSuite®, Claritas®, etc.

Knowledge of seismic reflection data processing and interpretation and a strong interest in volcanic and rift processes is required  

Co-supervisors: Dr Jennifer Eccles, School of Environment, University of Auckland. 
Dr Richard Wysoczanski, NIWA, Wellington 

►►  Geophysical proxies in predictive habitat mapping (PhD)

The aim of predictive habitat mapping is to develop quantitative procedures to routinely and objectively characterize seafloor substrate, habitat and biodiversity using remotely sensed data, thus underpinning biodiversity assessment and influencing successful ocean management. 

The objective of the project research is to develop and apply geomorphometric analysis using a comprehensive geological, biological and multibeam bathymetry dataset. The study area is the in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, which includes a wide diversity of geomorphologies (volcanic seamounts, ridges, canyons, shallow continental shelf, deep basins and hydrothermal vents) and a rich biodiversity. 

Knowledge in geophysics, marine acoustic or geomorphology would be an advantage, as well as aptitude to numerical processing and coding in e.g. Matlab or equivalent.

Co-supervisors : Dr Ashley Rowden, NIWA Wellington

►► The East Coromandel Margin (MSc)

The east margin of the Coromandel Peninsula marks the transition from an old rift to the west to the present day active Central Volcanic Region and Taupo Volcanic Rift to the east. The project includes processing and interpreting of the seismic lines and interpreting the section to provide some element of understanding to this complex region of the New Zealand. The following dedicated processing, interpretation and visualization software will be available: ArcGIS®, KingdomSuite®, Claritas®.

Supervisors A/Professor Julie Rowland

3-dimensional marine seismic imaging of Aotea Fault, Wellington Harbour (MSc)

This MSc project aims at developing a detailed 3-dimensional (3D) image of the Aotea Fault in Wellington Harbour using high-resolution seismic reflection (boomer) data, to better constrain its geometry and history of activity. The project includes the acquisition, processing, and interpretation of a marine 3D high-resolution seismic dataset over parts of the fault. This project is part of the It’s Our Fault project which aims to identify the extent, timing and characteristics of faulting in the Wellington Region.

There will be an opportunity for the student to participate in the data acquisition in Wellington Harbour. The project is subject to funding from EQC.

Co-supervisor: Dr Susi Woelz, NIWA, Wellington




National Order of Merit (France)


  • Science Leader Marine Geological Processes and Resources programme (SSIF, NIWA). 
  • Director of the South and West Pacific Regional Data Assembly and Coordination Center, for the SEABED2030 programme

Areas of expertise

- Marine Geology and Geophysics: acquistion, processing, and interpretation of seismic reflection data, and multibeam echosounder data (Bathymetry and backscatter)

- Tectonics and Geodynamics of the Southwest Pacific region 

- Predictive habitat mapping - 

- Geomorphology

- Quantitative seafloor backscatter and water-column imaging 

- Active faulting and paleoseismology 

- Paleotsunami

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Chair - International Backscatter Working Group (BSWG)
  • Member - Stirring Group of the Geological and Habitat Mapping Group (GEOHAB)
  • Member - Scientific Council of South Pacific Integrated Observatory for Environment and Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity (GOPS, Nouméa) 


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.
  • Mayer, L., Jakobsson, M., Allen, G., Dorschel, B., Falconer, R., Ferrini, V., ... Weatherall, P. (2018). The Nippon Foundation—GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project: The Quest to See the World’s Oceans Completely Mapped by 2030. Geosciences, 8 (2), 63-63. 10.3390/geosciences8020063
  • Ellis, J. I., Clark, M. R., Rouse, H. L., & Lamarche, G. N. (2017). Environmental management frameworks for offshore mining: the New Zealand approach. Marine Policy, 84, 178-192. 10.1016/j.marpol.2017.07.004
  • Lamarche, G., & Lurton, X. (2017). Recommendations for improved and coherent acquisition and processing of backscatter data from seafloor-mapping sonars. Marine Geophysical Research10.1007/s11001-017-9315-6
  • Lamarche, G., Orpin, A. R., Mitchell, J. S., & Pallentin, A. (2016). Benthic habitat mapping. In M. R. Clark, M. Consalvey, A. A. Rowden (Eds.) Biological sampling in the deep sea (pp. 80-102). Hoboken, New Jersey, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. 10.1002/9781118332535.ch5
  • Lurton, X., Lamarche, G., Brown, C., Lucieer, V., Rice, G., Schimel, A., & Weber, T. (2015). Backscatter measurements by seafloor-mapping sonars. Guidelines and Recommendations. Geohab. Related URL.
  • Pouderoux, H., Proust, J.-N., & Lamarche, G. (2014). Submarine paleoseismology of the northern Hikurangi subduction margin of New Zealand as deduced from Turbidite record since 16 ka. Quaternary Science Reviews, 84, 116-131. 10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.11.015
  • Joanne, C., Lamarche, G., & Collot, J. Y. (2013). Dynamics of giant mass transport in deep submarine environments: The Matakaoa Debris Flow, New Zealand. Basin Research, 25 (4), 471-488. 10.1111/bre.12006
  • E. Gràcia E, Lamarche, G., Nelson, H., & Pantosti, D. (2013). Preface: Marine and Lake Paleoseismology. Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 13 (12), 3469-3478. 10.5194/nhess-13-3469-2013

Contact details

Alternative contact

+64 (0)4 386 0465

+64 (0) 21 1895732

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 7, Room 709
New Zealand

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