About the theme


The distinctive regional geomorphology has determined both the contemporary landforms and coastal marine ecosystems that now occur across the region, including influencing the occurrence and distribution of coral reefs from the shelf to the coast.

Coral reefs have developed as shelf edge, inner shelf and coastal reefs inshore, and whilst the offshore reefs have been studied, little was known about the inshore reefs for over 400km of the complex coastal zone of the Kimberley. In particular, understanding the history of coral reef growth and persistence in the extreme environmental conditions that characterise the Kimberley.


  • Seek to understand the past history of coral reef growth for Kimberley reefs across the region, including inshore to offshore.
  • Map and describe the reefs of the Kimberley.
  • Provide the first geomorphological analysis of the inshore reefs.


  • Remotely sensed images were used to generate geomorphic, habitat and substrate maps of reef platforms across the Kimberley.
  • Sub bottom profiling was undertaken at nine reefs to determine their internal structure and to assess reef growth.
  • Cores were taken at selected reefs to examine the Holocene history and reef growth responses.


  • Managers now have access to the ReefKIM GIS database of habitats that includes georeferenced data and the location of every significant reef in the Kimberley along with detailed substrate and geomorphology maps for 30 reefs across the region.
  • Understanding of how Kimberley reefs vary regionally in response to coastal substrate controls, terrestrial inputs, and types of foundations.
  • Understanding of the contrasts between coastal, mid-shelf and offshore reefs, and how this is reflected in reef substrates and oceanographic controls.
  • Understanding the changes in environmental conditions in the inshore Kimberley region over the last several thousand years and what has been the associated response of coral communities and growth patterns.
  • Understanding how the interactions between substrates, sea levels, extreme macrotidal conditions, high turbidity and subsidence controlled the inshore reefs, and how these are factors reflected in reef building communities, “turn on –turn off “ history and ecology and substrates.


New type of reef identified in the Kimberley

Kimberley reefs based on ancient history

Crowdsourcing for the Kimberley Marine Environments


Bufarale G, Collins L.B., O’Leary MJ, Stevens A, Kordi M, Solihuddin T (2016). Quaternary onset and evolution of Kimberley coral reefs (Northwest Australia) revealed by high-resolution seismic imaging. Journal of Continental Shelf Research, 123, 80–88 doi:10.1016/j.csr.2016.04.002

Bufarale G, Collins L.B. Stratigraphic architecture and evolution of a barrier seagrass bank in the mid-late Holocene, Shark Bay, Australia. Marine Geology 11/2014; 359. DOI:10.1016/j.margeo.2014.11.010

Collins L.B., O’Leary M.J., Stevens A. M., Bufarale G., Kordi M., Solihuddin T, 2015. Geomorphic Patterns, internal architecture and Reef Growth in a macrotidal, high turbidity setting of coral reefs from the Kimberley Bioregion. Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 12-22. (open access from Nov 2017)

Kordi, M.N., and O’Leary, M. (2016). Geomorphic classification of reefs in the north western Australia Shelf.Regional Studies in Marine Science, DOI 10.1016/j.rsma.2016.05.012.

Kordi, M.N., and O’Leary, M. (2016) A Spatial Approach to Improve Coastal Bioregion Management of the North Western Australia. Ocean & Coastal Management, 127, 26-42 doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2016.04.004

Kordi M.N., Collins, LB, O’Leary M, Stevens A (November 2015) ReefKIM: An integrated geodatabase for sustainable management of the Kimberley Reefs, North West Australia Ocean & Coastal Management doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2015.11.004

Kordi M.N., Collins, L.B. and Stevens A. (2015). A Large Scale Geomorphological and Surficial Cover Map of Nearshore Reefs in the Kimberley Coast, WA. In Proceedings from Coast to Coast Conference 2014, Mandurah, Western Australia. ISBN-10: 0994357206 pp 15–20

Kordi M.N., Collins L.B. and Stevens, A. (2015). Geomorphic Patterns, Habitats and Substrates of Macrotidal Reefs from the Kimberley, North West Australia. In Proceedings from 2015 WAMSI Research Conference, Perth, Western Australia pp 72

Ryan J. Lowe, Arturo S. Leon, Graham Symonds, James L. Falter, and Renee Gruber The intertidal hydraulics of tide-dominated reef platforms Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans Volume 120, Issue 7 July 2015 Pages 4845–4868 DOI: 10.1002/2015JC010701

Solihuddin, T.,  Bufarale, G., Blakeway, D., O’Leary, M.J., 2016. Geomorphology and Late Holocene Accretion History of Adele Reef: a Northwest Australian Mid-Shelf Platform Reef, Geo-Marine Letters, 2016, 1–15. DOI: 10.1007/s00367-016-0465-3

Solihuddin T, O’Leary M, Blakeway D, Parnum I, Kordi M, Collins L (March 2016) Holocene reef evolution in a macrotidal setting: Buccaneer Archipelago, Kimberley Bioregion, Northwest Australia Coral Reefs DOI 10.1007/s00338-016-1424-1

Richards ZT, O’Leary MJ, The coralline algal cascades of Tallon Island (Jalan) fringing reef, NW Australia. Coral Reefs June 2015, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 595-595 First online: 04 February 2015 doi: 10.1007/s00338-015-1262-6


Living on the Edge: Resilience of nearshore turbid-zone corals to extreme environments (2017 WAMSI Research Conference)

Use of LIDAR in the Kimberley (2015 WAMSI Research Conference)

Kimberley Reef Growth and Maintenance (2015 WAMSI Research Conference)


Program: Kimberley Marine Research

Location: Kimberley, Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park, Montgomery Reef, Buccaneer Archipelago, Adele Island, Cockatoo Island

Theme Leader: Lindsay Collins, Curtin University


Final Report