Profile picture_TClark.jpgCentre for Geoanalytical Mass Spectroscopy and Isotope Science

The University of Queensland

 Radiogenic Isotope Facility

 School of Earth Sciences

 Brisbane QLD 4072 Australia

Richards Building, Room 214E


 Phone: +61 7 3346 9755

 Fax: +61 7 3365 8530

Tara R. Clark is a geochemist and marine palaeoecologist in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Queensland. Tara received a Bachelor of Science (Hons) at the University of New England, Armidale, and a PhD from the University of Queensland, Brisbane.

 Tara’s early and current research is primarily focused on human impacts on the marine environment. After the completion of her undergraduate studies in 2005, she investigated the effects of nutrient enrichment on seagrass macroinvertebrate communities during Honours at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour. The importance of this study was reflected in the need to assess the effects of increasing nutrient enrichment in coastal waters, from point and non-point sources, as a result of human population expansion and increased urban development on the NSW mid-north coast.

 During her doctoral research, Tara investigated the history of mortality events of inshore reef coral communities within the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) since European settlement. While the GBR is considered to be one of the least degraded coral reefs in the world, increasing evidence suggests that this may not be the case with a 50.7% loss of coral cover since 1985 on mid-shelf and offshore reefs (see De’ath et al. 2012 PNAS 109: 17995-17999). With detailed knowledge of the GBR limited to the past 25yrs, little is known of the past changes in coral communities since European settlement and the onset of anthropogenic disturbance. This research used highly precise uranium-series (U-series) thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (TIMS) and multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC ICP-MS) dating of dead Acropora coral rubble (death assemblage) and massive Porites from inshore reef environments influenced by terrestrial runoff and high sea surface temperatures, to provide an accurate chronology on the timing of historical mortality events prior to the advent of long-term monitoring. Such baseline knowledge is critical when assessing the current status of the GBR and setting restoration targets.

 Tara is now continuing to work on historical ecological and environmental changes on the GBR as a Research Officer on the National Environmental Research Program (NERP) funded project ‘Characterising the cumulative impacts of global, regional and local stressors on the present and past biodiversity of the GBR’.




Peer-reviewed papers


Roff G, Clark T, Reymond C, Zhao J, Feng Y, McCook  LJ, Pandolfi JM. 2013. Palaeoecological evidence of a historical collapse of corals on the inshore Great Barrier Reef following European settlement. Proceedings B.


Clark TR, Zhao J, Feng Y, Done TJ, Jupiter S, Lough J, Pandolfi JM. 2012. Spatial variability of initial 230Th/232Th in modern Porites from the inshore region of the Great Barrier Reef. Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta. 78, 99-118.

Yu K, Zhao J, Roff G, Lybolt M, Feng Y, Clark T, Li S. 2012. High-precision U-series ages of transported coral blocks on Heron Reef (southern Great Barrier Reef) and storm activity during the past century. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 337-338, 23-36.

NguyenA, ZhaoJ, FengY, HuW, YuK, GasparonM, PhamT, Clark T (2013) Impact of recent coastal development and human activities on Nha Trang Bay (Vietnam): evidence from a Porites lutea geochemical record. Coral Reefs. DOI: 10.1007/s00338-012-0962-4


Conference abstracts


Clark T, Roff G, Zhao J, Done T, Pandolfi J (2012) U-series dating of coral death assemblages: Evidence of a historical regional collapse of branching Acropora communities in the Palm Islands region, GBR. International Geological Congress, Brisbane.

Clark T, Zhao J, Roff G, Done T, Nothdurft L, Pandolfi J (2012) Discerning the timing and cause of historical mortality events in modern Porites from the Great Barrier Reef. International Geological Congress, Brisbane.


Clark TR, RoffG, ZhaoJ, FengY, DoneT, PandolfiJM. (2011) Coral gravesite linked to the 1997-1998 bleaching event: Application of U-series to dating young corals. International Quaternary Association Congress, Bern.


Clark TR, Zhao J, Roff G, Feng Y, Done T, Pandolfi JM (2010) Improving the accuracy and precision of TIMS U-series ages of modern corals and application to coral death assemblages from the inshore region of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility Annual Conference, Cairns.

Clark TR, Zhao J, Feng Y, Done T, Jupiter S, Lough J, Pandolfi J.M. (2010) ‘Improving the accuracy and precision of TIMS U-series ages of modern corals from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’. Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 12, EGU2010-14517-1, 2010 EGU General Assembly 2010.


Clark TR, Roff G, Zhao J-x, Done T, Pandolfi JM (2009) Dating and mapping historical changes in GBR coral communities. Proceedings of the 2008 Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility Annual Conference, Cairns 28April-1 May 2008.