School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences - Theses

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    Radar observations of tropical cyclones
    Meighen, P. J. (Phillip John) (University of Melbourne, 1987)
    This thesis describes observations of tropical cyclones using microwave radar. Basic concepts and definitions in the fields of both radar and tropical cyclones are presented. The structure of tropical cyclones as revealed by radar (both airborne and land-based) since the first observations were made in the 1940s, is described. It is shown that radar observations, particularly when combined with conventional observations, can provide valuable insights into the nature of tropical cyclones. The use of radar as a means of achieving the two major operational goals of the tropical cyclone forecaster, namely, the determination of the position (both present and future) and the intensity of a tropical cyclone, is considered and it is demonstrated that radar has a valuable role to play in these areas.
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    Transfer processes over natural surfaces : wind and crop interactions
    Bennett, J. M. (John Michael) (University of Melbourne, 1975)
    This work is an investigation into some aspects of the transfer of momentum from the atmosphere to the ground. It is concerned with the reactions between the wind and long slender crops such as wheat and barley. It shows that the behaviour of the latter, such as flexing and oscillating, is dependent on properties of both the wind structure and the plant. It shows that wave-like motion of the canopy occurs when there is close coupling between the plants, near a damped fundamental resonance frequency, and certain structures in the wind. The wind gust structure is known to be stability dependent, and patches of the canopy deflect to indicate certain features of this structure. Canopy waves are observed to occur in particular in lapse conditions, although plant motion can exist at all conditions provided the plant's physical and mechanical properties are such that large deflections can occur. The role of the plant's properties in its response to the wind is examined and shown to be particularly dependent on the maturity of the plant. Changes induced in the structure of long slender crops, by the plants flexing in them, are shown to be a source of variations in the atmospheric wind velocity profile parameters, the roughness length and zero plane displacement. It is suggested that in high winds, an increased plant volume density due to flexure is as important as streamlining, in interpreting the dependence of these profile parameters on windspeeds. It is demonstrated that the loss of momentum from the mean flow is greatest in the vicinity of the heads of the cereal crops considered here, due principally to the large area of the heads in comparison to the stems. The role of close coupling between the turbulence structure and plants is discussed in the last chapter in relation to damage to crops.
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    The thermal history of the Bowen Basin (Qld.) : an Apatite Fission Track Study
    Marshallsea, Susan Jane. (University of Melbourne, 1988)
    The thermal history of the Bowen Basin has been studied using apatite fission . track analysis (AFTA). Previous vitrinite reflectance studies had shown that the magnitude of the maximum paleotemperatures experienced by outcropping Permo-Triassic sediments had varied across the basin. From the AFTA data the timing and magnitude of maximum paleotemperatures has been constrained and a detailed thermal history for the basin has been elucidated and placed in a geological context. The extensive vitrinite reflectance data for the basin has also afforded an opportunity to compare and contrast AFTA with this more conventional paleotemperature indicator. Outcropping Late Permian Rangal Formation and correlatives were analysed primarily because of their widespread distribution, volcanogenic nature and relatively synchronous time of deposition. Fission track ages of apatites from these units vary from ~250 Ma to around 100-120 Ma. The apatite fission-track ages of ~250 Ma are indistinguishable from the Late Permian stratigraphic age of the units and indicate that fission tracks in these samples have not been appreciably annealed. The track length distribution of these samples indicate that the samples have resided at temperatures of less than �50�C since deposition and the apatite fission track ages are regarded as reflecting the provenance of these sediments from contemporaneous Late Permian volcanism. A good trend between apatite fission track age and mean track length for the Rangal Formation and equivalents is apparent. This trend, together with progressive changes in the track length distribution and the single grain ages, shows that the decrease in apatite fission track age from ~250 Ma to ~100-120 Ma reflects an increasing degree of annealing at progressively higher paleotemperatures, prior to cooling in the Early Cretaceous. This interpretation is consistent with the vitrinite reflectance results and suggests that presently outcropping rocks have been subjected to paleotemperatures of between 50-120�C and above. An AFTA study of Permian and Triassic samples from deep petroleum wells in the Denison Trough also reveals a period of elevated paleotemperatures prior to early Cretaceous cooling, and allows constraints on paleogeothermal gradients at the time of maximum paleotemperatures. Estimated paleogeothermal gradients are around ~30�C/km implying that elevated paleotemperatures were due to increased depths of burial and that cooling in this area was due to uplift and erosion of 1-2 km of post-Triassic section. A number of igneous intrusions outcrop in the northern region of the basin. These intrusions give Early Cretaceous apatite, sphene and zircon fission track ages and were emplaced at the same time as maximum paleotemperatures were experienced across the basin, although the distribution of intrusions does not directly correlate with the region of highest paleotemperatures. Both the intrusions and the sediments have experienced a similar cooling history. The cooling is interpreted to reflect a period of regional uplift and erosion beginning in the Early Cretaceous. A compressional event has recently been recognized in the central regions of the basin and it is thought that the uplift observed from the AFTA data and the intrusive activity may be associated with this event. The AFTA results suggest that between 1-3 kilometres of sediment has been eroded from the basin since the Early Cretaceous, with the central region of the basin experiencing the greatest degree of uplift. The eroded sequence is thought to be equivalent to the Early Triassic to Jurassic sediments preserved to the south and west in the Galilee and Surat Basins. Former extension across the Bowen Basin of these units is consistent with their present-day distribution. The conclusions from the AFTA data are also consistent with the geology of the coastal region, to the east of the basin, which indicates significant early-mid Cretaceous tectonism, and with widespread emplacement of Early Cretaceous intrusions. A good correlation between vitrinite reflectance and apatite fission track age is apparent in the outcrop samples with a trend from old apatite fission track ages and low vitrinite reflectance values (~0.3 Romax) to young apatite fission track ages (~100-120 Ma) and high vitrinite reflectance values (~2.0 Romax). An investigation of the relative merits of the various published models for predicting vitrinite reflectance values in the Bowen Basin shows that only one of the models used was able to predict the observed vitrinite reflectance data. However, it is concluded that in general the published vitrinite reflectance models are unable to predict the observed vitrinite reflectance values from the thermal history derived independently from AFTA. This is thought to reflect limitations in the formulations of these models.