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Professor David Chittleborough

Telephone +61 8 8313 3831 / +61 8 8313 3873
Position Adjunct Professor
Fax +61 8 8313 6717 / +61 8 8313 4347
Building John Davies Building / Mawson Laboratories
Floor/Room 1 13 / B 05
Campus Waite / North Terrace
Org Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine / Earth Sciences

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Biography/ Background

Doctor David Chittleborough received his PhD in Pedology in 1982 at the University of Adelaide on the development of soil chronosequences in eastern Australia. At the time he was a field pedologist mapping soils in central South Australia. He joined the Department of Soil Science of the University of Adelaide in 1983 at which time he began research on processes of non-point source pollution, specifically the impact of soil processes and soil management on water quality. He has developed methods to reduce the impact of phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon in runoff from catchments by the addition of chemical amendments to soils. David is also engaged in studying the origin and properties of soils with subsurface physical and chemical constraints using high resolution x ray scanning tomography to image pores and roots in intact soils. A recent extension of this work involves the study of the chemistry of the rhizosphere using synchrotron-based x ray absorption techniques. David has an interest in developing new techniques to separate and analyse the finest particles in soils - the soil colloids. He is a member of the recently-formed Hydropedology Working Group of the International Union of Soil Science and is on the Organising Committee for it's second International Conference to be held in Leipzig, Germany in 2012 ( He was co-founder and director of the University's Water Research Cluster and is now on the Executive and Advisory Board of the newly-formed Water Research Centre, where he leads the Hydropedology Program. He also has a long-standing interest in natural resource science and management and is a member of the Environment Institute's Landscape Futures Program where he is working on setting up observatories to monitor ecosystem and hydropedological processes.

Teaching Interests

David is a member of two Disciplines in the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences viz. Geology & Geophysics and Soil & Land Systems. He teaches Pedology, which is the study of the origin, development, properties and distribution of soils, in two courses of the Environmental Geoscience major viz. Landscape Processes and Environments II and Environmental Geoscience Processes III

He also teaches parts of courses in the Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Science) and Bachelor of Science (Natural Resources)viz. Earths Environment I, Integrated Catchment Management III and Soil Water Management III

To do these courses enrol in the flagship course in the Faculty of Sciences â and select Science

Research Interests

Overall Dr Chittleborough is interested in the origin, properties and distribution of soils and their management, particularly Australian soils and their properties, such as texture contrast and sodicity, which are manifest in such a wide variety of forms and which pose such a challenge for human habitation.

David is a member of the Soil Chemistry Group and a recently-formed Hydropedology Group

Specific areas of research interest
1. Non-point source pollution and water quality in catchments 

2. Colloid separation technology Methods such as Flow Field-flow Fractionation for isolating colloids and nano particles from soils and sediments.

3. Environmental nanoparticles Origin, physical, mineralogical and chemical properties, and transport through soils and catchments.

4. Physico-chemistry of root-soil interactions.  Development of non destructive means of characterising the architecture of the soil pores using x ray computed tomography and studying the chemistry and mineralogy of the soil-pore interface using techniques such as X-ray Absorption spectroscopy, micro-X ray fluorescence spectrometry and surface analytical techniques such as X-ray photon spectroscopy.

5. Salinity and sodicity and the origin and development of saline soils an repair of damaged landscapes.

Current Research grants
The fate and toxicity of nanoparticles in the terrestrial environment. Australian Research Council - Discovery Grant.

Carbon Sequestration by mineral surface area as feedback to climate warming in a greenhouse ocean. Australian Research Council - Discovery Grant

Australian Flux Network Project: ecological/pedological observatory at Chowilla, South Australia. Grant from National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme under the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network

Identifying cost-effective reforestation approaches for biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration in the Australian wet tropics. Australian Research Council - Linkage Grant



Cornelis,G., Ryan,B., McLaughlin,M.J., Kirby,J.K., Beak,D. and Chittleborough,D.J. (2011) Solubility and batch retention of CeO2 nanoparticles in soils. Environmental Science & Technology 45:2777-2782

Setia,R., Marschner,P., Baldock,J., Chittleborough,D.J. and Verma,V. (2011) Relationships between carbon dioxide emission and soil properties in salt affected landscapes. Soil Biology & Biochemistry.  Available on line 23rd December 2010.

Cornelis,G., Kirby,J., Beak,D., Chittleborough,D. and McLaughlin,M. (2010) A method for determination of retention of silver and cerium oxide nanoparticles in soils Environmnental Chemistry 7:298-308.

McBeath,T.M., Grant,C.D., Murray,R.S. and Chittleborough,D.J. (2010) Effects of subsoil amendments on soil physical properties, crop responses and soil water quality in a dry year. Australian Journal of Soil Research 48:140-149.

Varcoe,J., van Leeuwen,J.A., Chittleborough,D.J., Cox,J.W., Smernik,R.J. and Heitz,A. (2010) Changes in water quality following gypsum application to catchment soils of the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia. Organic Geochemistry 41 (2) 116-123.

Jassogne,L., McNeill, A. and Chittleborough,D.J. (2007) 3D visualisation of and analysis of macro- and meso-porosity of the upper horizons of a sodic, texture contrast soil. European Journal of Soil Science 58, 589-598.

Gholmalizadeh Ahangar,A., Smernik,R.J., Kookana,R.S. and Chittleborough,D.J. (2009) The effects of lipids on the sorption of diuron and phenanthrene in soils. Chemosphere 74 1062-1068.

Bestland,E., Milgate,S., Chittleborough,D., van Leeuwen,J., Pichler,M. and Solininka,L. (2009) The significance of lag-time of deep throughflow: an example from a small, ephemeral catchment with contrasting soil types in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 13:1201-1214.

Professional Associations

Vice chair of the Hydropedology Working Group of the International Union of Soil Science Member of the Australian Society of Soil Science and Member of the Soil Science Society of America

Expertise for Media Contact

ExpertiseSoils (origin and formation, classification, impact of urban and agricultural development, impact of soil management on water quality, salinity); soil; water quality
NotesAlt phone: (08) 8303 3873
Mobile0438 803 904

Entry last updated: Sunday, 24 Jan 2016

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