The University of Newcastle's Associate Professor Ron Boyd is leading a voyage investigating the potential for underwater landslides to generate tsunamis off the coast of NSW and Queensland.
Associate Professor Boyd is the Chief Scientist on the RV Southern Surveyor, a vessel owned and managed by CSIRO. He is leading a team that includes 11 scientists from universities and government agencies across Australia and around the world.
The RV Southern Surveyor will leave Newcastle this week on a voyage tracking from Byron Bay to Noosa Heads.
Associate Professor Boyd said recent work indicated that underwater landslides that can cause tsunamis had previously occurred on this stretch.
"We believe they will occur again and we aim to estimate the size of the slides, their likely location and frequency of occurrence," he said.
"This will enable an assessment of the threat posed by landslide-generated tsunamis in eastern Australia, a potential natural disaster capable of affecting national infrastructure and productivity."
For the first time, scientists will create a continuous high resolution picture of the seabed in this previously unsurveyed part of the Australian marine jurisdiction. They will use two types of acoustic survey tools to identify the shape of the seabed, and the materials beneath it.
This area of the coastline is deemed important because it houses the second largest concentration of people in Australia.
The RV Southern Surveyor will depart Newcastle at 10am on Wednesday 5 November.