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Hugh Smith

Geomorphologist / Research Priority Area Leader / Capability Leader
Soils & Landscapes
Hugh Smith
Palmerston North
Contact Hugh

Research interests

  • Erosion, sediment and water quality
  • Erosion and sediment modelling
  • Sediment source fingerprinting and tracing
  • Landslide and debris flow processes
  • Riverbank erosion
  • Catchment sediment budgets
  • Transfer of environmental contaminants
  • Environmental radioactivity
  • Wildfire effects on runoff, erosion and water quality

Professional positions held

2019- Capability Leader, Landscapes within Soils and Landscapes Team

2019- Research Priority Area Leader, Erosion Processes and Management

2018- Geomorphologist, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research

2015-18 Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of Liverpool

2013-15 Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of Liverpool

2011-13 Marie Curie Fellow, University of Plymouth

2008-11 Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

2007-08 Environmental Scientist, New South Wales Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water

Professional Affiliations

  • New Zealand Hydrological Society
  • Engineering New Zealand Rivers Group
  • New Zealand Association of Resource Management
  • Australia and New Zealand Geomorphology Group
  • European Geoscience Union

Publications and reports

Smith HG, Spiekermann R, Betts H, Neverman AJ (2021) Comparing methods of landslide data acquisition and susceptibility modelling: Examples from New Zealand. Geomorphology 381: 107660.

Onda Y, Taniguchi K, Yoshimura K, Kato H, Takahashi J, Wakiyama Y, Coppin F, Smith HG (2020) Radionuclides from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in terrestrial systems. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment 1: 694. 

Taniguchi K, Onda Y, Smith HG, Blake W, Yoshimura K, Yamashiki Y, Kuramoto T (2020) Dataset on the 6-year radiocesium transport in rivers near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Scientific Data 7: 433.

Smith HG (2020) A region-wide assessment of shallow landslide susceptibility in Hawke's Bay. Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research Contract Report LC3720 for Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Smith HG (2020) Memorandum on the technical feasibility of developing a national index for susceptibility to streambank erosion. Landcare Research Contract Report LC3769 prepared for the Ministry for the Environment.

Smith HG, Spiekermann R, Herzig A, Dymond J (2020) Application of a revised bank erosion model to update SedNetNZ results for Hawke's Bay. Landcare Research Contract Report LC3740 prepared for Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Feeney CJ, Chiverrell RC, Smith HG, Hooke JM, Cooper JR (2020) Modelling the decadal dynamics of reach-scale river channel evolution and floodplain turnover in CAESAR-Lisflood. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 45: 1273-1291.

Neverman A, Smith HG, Herzig A, Basher L (2020) Modelling baseline suspended sediment loads and load reductions required to achieve Draft Freshwater Objectives for Southland. Landcare Research Contract Report LC3749 prepared for Environment Southland.

Smith HG, Spiekermann R, Dymond J, Basher L (2019) Predicting spatial patterns in riverbank erosion for catchment sediment budgets. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 53: 338-362.

Smith HG, Herzig A, Dymond J, Basher L (2019) Application of a revised SedNetNZ model to the Oreti and Aparima catchments, Southland. Manaaki Whenau - Landcare Research Contract Report LC3507 for Our Land and Water National Science Challenge.

Taniguchi K, Onda Y, Smith HG, Blake W, Yoshimura K, Yamashiki Y, Kuramoto T, Saito K (2019) Transport and redistribution of radiocesium in Fukushima fallout through rivers. Environmental Science and Technology 53: 12339-12347.

Bloschl G et al. (2019) Twenty-three unsolved problems in hydrology (UPH) - a community perspective. Hydrological Sciences Journal 64: 1141-1158.

Escobar-Ruiz V, Smith HG, Blake W, Macdonald N (2019) Assessing the performance of a physically-based hydrological model using a proxy catchment approach in an agricultural environment. Hydrological Processes 33: 3119-3137.

Thomas E, Riley M, Smith HG (2019) A flow conversation? Methodological issues in interviewing farmers about rivers and riparian management. Area 51: 371-379.

Gaspar L, Blake WH, Smith HG, Lizaga I, Navas A (2019) Testing the sensitivity of a multivariate mixing model using geochemical fingerprints with artificial mixtures. Geoderma 337: 498-510.

Smith HG, Karam DS, Lennard AT (2018) Evaluating tracer selection for catchment sediment fingerprinting. Journal of Soils and Sediments 18: 3005-3019.

Smith HG, Peñuela A, Sangster H, Sellami H, Boyle J, Chiverrell R, Schillereff D, Riley M (2018) Simulating a century of soil erosion for agricultural catchment management. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 43: 2089-2105.

Smith HG, Basher L (2018) Assessment of post-fire debris flow risk, Hillend Station, Wanaka. Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research Contract Report LC3162 prepared for Otago Regional Council.

Blake WH, Rabinovich A, Wynants M, Kelly C, Nasseri M, Ngondya I, Patrick A, Mtei K, Munishi L, Boeckx P, Navas A, Smith HG, Gilvear D, Wilson G, Roberts N, Ndakidemi (2018) Soil erosion in East Africa: an interdisciplinary approach to realising pastoral land management change. Environmental Research Letters 13: 124014.

Blake WH, Boeckx P, Stock BC, Smith HG, Bode S, Upadhayay HR, Gaspar L, Goddard R, Lennard AT, Lizaga I, Lobb DA, Owens PN, Petticrew EL, Kuzyk ZA, Garu BD, Munishi L, Mtei K, Nebiyu A, Mabit L, Navas A, Semmens BX (2018) A deconvolutional Bayesian mixing model approach for river basin sediment source apportionment. Scientific Reports 8: 13073.

Peñuela A, Sellami, H, Smith HG (2018) A model for catchment soil erosion management in humid agricultural environments. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 43, 608-622.

Riley M, Sangster H, Smith HG, Chiverrell R, Boyle J (2018) Will farmers work together for conservation? The potential limits of farmers’ cooperation in agri-environment measures. Land Use Policy 70: 635-646.

Upadhayay HR, Smith HG, Griepentrog M, Bodé S, Bajracharya RM, Blake W, Cornelis W Boeckx P (2018) Community managed forests dominate the catchment sediment cascade in the mid-hills of Nepal: a compound-specific stable isotope analysis. Science of the Total Environment 637-638: 306-317.

Laceby JP, Evrard O, Smith HG, Blake WH, Olley JM, Minella JPG, Owens PN (2017) The challenges and opportunities of addressing particle size effects in sediment source fingerprinting: a review. Earth-Science Reviews 169: 85-103.

Langhans C, Smith HG, Chong DMO, Nyman P, Lane PNJ, Sheridan GJ (2016) A model for assessing water quality risk in catchments prone to wildfire. Journal of Hydrology 534, 407-426.

Cawson JG, Nyman P, Smith HG, Lane PNJ, Sheridan GJ (2016) How soil temperatures during prescribed burning affect soil water repellency, infiltration and erosion. Geoderma 278: 12-22.

Estrany J, Lopez-Tarazon JA, Smith HG (2016) Wildfire effects on suspended sediment delivery quantified using fallout radionuclide tracers in a Mediterranean catchment. Land Degradation and Development 27: 1501-1512

Grygar TM, Elznicova J, Kiss T, Smith HG (2016) Using sedimentary archives to reconstruct pollution history and sediment provenance: The Ohre River, Czech Republic. Catena 144: 109-129.

Palazon L, Latorre B, Gaspar G, Blake WH, Smith HG, Navas A (2016) Combining catchment modelling and sediment fingerprinting to assess sediment dynamics in a Spanish Pyrenean river system. Science of the Total Environment 569-570: 1136-1148.

Owens PN, Blake WH, Gaspar L, Gateuille D, Koiter AJ, Lobb DA, Petticrew EL, Raiffarth D, Smith HG, Woodward JC (2016) Fingerprinting and tracing the sources of soils and sediments: Earth and ocean science, geoarchaeological, forensic, and human health applications. Earth-Science Reviews 162: 1-23.

Smith HG, Evrard O, Blake WH, Owens PN (2015) Preface – Addressing challenges to advance sediment fingerprinting research. Journal of Soils and Sediments 15: 2033-2037.

Nyman P, Smith HG, Sherwin CB, Langhans C, Lane PNJ, Sheridan GJ (2015) Predicting sediment delivery from debris flows after wildfire. Geomorphology 250: 173-186.

Wethered AS, Ralph TJ, Smith HG, Fryirs KA, Heijnis H (2015) Quantifying fluvial (dis)connectivity in an agricultural catchment using a geomorphic approach and sediment source tracing. Journal of Soils and Sediments 15: 2052-2066.

Palazón L, Latorre B, Gaspar L, Blake WH, Smith HG, Navas A (2015) Comparing catchment sediment fingerprinting procedures using an auto-evaluation approach with virtual sample mixtures. Science of the Total Environment, 532: 456-466.

Smith HG, Blake WH, Taylor A (2014) Modelling particle residence times in agricultural river basins using a sediment budget model and fallout radionuclide tracers. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 39: 1944-1959.

Smith HG, Blake WH (2014) Sediment fingerprinting in agricultural catchments: a critical re-examination of source discrimination and data corrections. Geomorphology, 204: 177-191.

Nyman P, Sheridan GJ, Smith HG, Lane PNJ (2014) Modelling the effects of surface storage, macropore flow and water repellency on infiltration after wildfire. Journal of Hydrology, 513: 301-313.

Yamashiki Y, Onda Y, Smith HG, Blake WH, Wakahara T, Igarashi Y, Matsuura Y, Yoshimura K (2014) Initial flux of sediment-associated radiocesium to the ocean from the largest river impacted by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Scientific Reports, 4: 3714.

Smith HG, Blake WH, Owens PN (2013) Discriminating fine sediment sources and the application of sediment tracers in burned catchments: a review. Hydrological Processes, 27: 943-958.

Cawson JG, Sheridan GJ, Smith HG, Lane PNJ (2013) Effects of fire severity and burn patchiness on hillslope-scale surface runoff, erosion and hydrologic connectivity in a prescribed burn. Forest Ecology and Management, 310: 219-233.

Nyman P, Sheridan GJ, Moody J, Smith HG, Noske P, Lane PNJ (2013) Sediment availability on burned hillslopes. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 118: 1-17.

Taylor A, Blake WH, Smith HG, Mabit L, Keith-Roach MJ (2013) Assumptions and challenges in the use of fallout beryllium-7 as a soil and sediment tracer. Earth-Science Reviews, 126: 85-95.

Smith HG, Sheridan GJ, Nyman P, Child DP, Lane PNJ, Hotchkis MAC, Jacobsen GE (2012) Quantifying sources of fine sediment supplied to post-fire debris flows using fallout radionuclide tracers. Geomorphology, 139-140: 403-415.

Smith HG, Hopmans P, Sheridan GJ, Lane PNJ, Noske PJ, Bren LJ (2012) Impacts of wildfire and salvage harvesting on water quality and nutrient exports from radiata pine and eucalypt forest catchments in south-eastern Australia. Forest Ecology and Management, 263: 160-169.

Smith HG, Blake WH, Owens PN (2012) Application of sediment tracers to discriminate sediment sources following wildfire. In: Stone M et al (eds.), Wildfire and water quality: processes, impacts and challenges, IAHS Publication No. 354, IAHS Press: Wallingford; pp. 81-89.

Cawson J, Sheridan GJ, Smith HG, Lane PNJ (2012) Surface runoff and erosion after prescribed burning and the effect of different fire regimes: a review. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 21: 857-872.

Santin C, Doerr SH, Shakjesby RA, Bryant R, Sheridan GJ, Lane PNJ, Smith HG, Bell TL (2012) Carbon loads, forms and sequestration potential within ash deposits produced by wildfire: new insights from the 2009 'Black Saturday' fires, Australia. European Journal of Forest Research 131: 1245-1253.

Lane PNJ, Sheridan GJ, Noske PJ, Sherwin CB, Costenaro JL, Nyman P, Smith HG (2012) Fire effects on forest hydrology: lessons from a multi-scale catchment experiment in SE Australia. In: Webb A. et al (eds.), Revisiting Experimental Catchment Studies in Forest Hydrology, IAHS Publication No. 353, IAHS Press: Wallingford, pp. 137-143.

Marren PM, Smith HG (2012) Channel changes along Corryong Creek, NE Victoria following drought-ending floods: implications for channel and riparian vegetation management. In: Grove JR, Rutherfurd ID (eds.), Proceedings of the 6th Australian Stream Management Conference: Managing for Extremes. River Basin Management Society, Canberra, Australia, pp. 31-38.

Smith HG, Sheridan GJ, Lane PNJ, Noske P, Heijnis H (2011) Changes to sediment sources following wildfire in a forested upland catchment, south-eastern Australia. Hydrological Processes, 25: 2878-2889.

Smith HG, Sheridan GJ, Lane PNJ, Bren L (2011) Wildfire and salvage harvesting effects on runoff generation and sediment exports from eucalypt and radiata pine forest catchments, south-eastern Australia. Forest Ecology and Management, 261: 570-581.

Smith HG, Sheridan GJ, Lane PNJ, Nyman P, Haydon S (2011) Wildfire effects on water quality in forest catchments: a review with implications for water supply. Journal of Hydrology, 396: 170-192.

Smith HG, Cawson J, Sheridan GJ, Lane PNJ (2011) Desktop review - impact of bushfires on water quality. Report to the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Depart of Forest and Ecosystem Science, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Cawson JG, Sheridan GJ, Smith HG, Lane PNJ (2011) The effect of prescribed fire severity and burn patchiness on runoff and erosion. In Thornton RP (Ed.), Proceedings of the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre/AFAC Annual Conference, pp. 105-119.

Nyman P, Sheridan GJ, Smith HG, Lane PNJ (2011) Evidence of debris flow occurrence after wildfire in upland catchments of south-east Australia. Geomorphology, 125: 383-401.

Mason C, Sheridan GJ, Smith HG, Lane PNJ (2011) Wildfire risk to water supply catchments: a Monte Carlo simulation model. In: Chan F et al (eds.), MODSIM2011: 19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation, pp. 2831-2837.

Smith HG, Sheridan GJ, Lane PNJ, Sherwin CB (2010) Paired Eucalyptus forest catchment study of prescribed fire effects on suspended sediment and nutrient exports in south-eastern Australia. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 19: 624-636.

Smith HG, Dragovich D (2009) Interpreting sediment delivery processes using suspended sediment-discharge hysteresis patterns from nested upland catchments, south-eastern Australia. Hydrological Processes, 23: 2415-2426.

Smith HG, Sheridan GJ, Nyman P, Lane PNJ, Haydon S (2009) A framework for modelling suspended sediment flux following wildfire in forested water supply catchments, south-eastern Australia. In Anderssen RS et al (eds), MODSIM2009: 18th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation, pp. 3549-3555.

Smith HG (2008) Estimation of suspended sediment loads and delivery in an incised upland headwater catchment, south-eastern Australia. Hydrological Processes, 22: 3135-3148.

Smith HG, Dragovich D (2008) Improving precision in sediment source and erosion process distinction in an upland catchment, south-eastern Australia. Catena, 72: 191-203.

Smith HG, Dragovich D (2008) Sediment budget analysis of slope-channel coupling and in-channel sediment storage in an upland catchment, southeastern Australia. Geomorphology, 101: 643-654.

Smith HG, Dragovich D (2008) Post-fire hillslope erosion response in a sub-alpine environment, south-eastern Australia. Catena, 73: 274-285.

Smith HG, Dragovich D (2008) Multi-scale sediment dynamics in an upland catchment, southeastern Australia: a synthesis. In Sediment dynamics in changing environments, Schmidt J et al (eds), IAHS Publ. No. 325, IAHS Press: Wallingford; pp. 291- 297.

Smith HG, Dragovich D (2007) Sediment supply from small upland catchments: possible implications of headwater channel restoration for stream management. In: Wilson AL et al (eds.), Australian Rivers: making a difference. Proceedings of the 5th Australian Stream Management Conference, Charles Sturt University, Albury, pp. 366-371,


PhD Geomorphology

B.Sc (Hons) Environmental


  • Honorary Research Fellow, University of Liverpool
  • Journal subject editor, Journal of Soils and Sediments