• The University of Western Australia (M079,M089), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Matthias Leopold is a soil geomorphologist focussing on soils and their properties for a better understanding of landscape evolution and soil functions. Frequently used methods of his studies include soil and geomorphic mapping, shallow geophysics, various sedimentological and geochemical laboratory methods including XRD for minerology. He is based at the School of Agriculture and Envirnment where he currently acts as Department Head for Environmental Science.  
Matthias integrates knowledge from pedology and geoscience to study and to understand near surface processes at various scales and environments. Thus, he develops 2D and 3D subsurface models using geophysical methods, to characterise vertical and horizontal differences in the upper meters including soils. Portraying the complexity of the subsurface, recently known in science as the“critical zone”, allows statements about possible rooting depths, hydrological flowpaths, material composition, thickness variations of soil horizons and geomorphic layers – information highly wanted by agriculture, forestry, geography and engineering as well as archaeology. Adding numerical dating techniques such as OSL and radiocarbon towards stratigraphic sections, allows developing chronostratigraphic units in order to describe past landscape evolution - valuable knowledge for nowadays environmental development concepts.

Roles and responsibilities

- Department head Environmental Science

- T&L committee

- Future Farm committee

- leader soil matrix group

Future research

- Developing the Avon River Critical Zone Observatory; an internationally connect platform to study water-soil-plant-atmosphere connections. In collaboration with multiple international partners.

Funding overview

2021 - 2022 Effevt of thinning on resdence times of water used by trees. (Skrzypek CI, Veeneklaas, Thompson, Leopold). 45,000 AUD

2021-2022 Evegetation of Gingn Solar farm (Poot CI, Veeneklaas, Thompson, Leopold). 7.019 AUD

2021 - 2023 Laying foundations for the Australian Critical Zone Observatory (Leopold CI). AUSCOPE 70,000 AUD

2020 - 2021 Revegetation Cover System Program (Veneklaas & Leopold). OO'Kane and BHP. 171,276 AUD

2020 – 2024 ARC Linkage Dating Murujuga's Rock Art: new scientific approaches, (10 project partners, PI McDonald; CI Leopold +8 others).   3,463,000AUD

2019 - 2021 CRC Honey-Bee products: - Assessing marginal soils for nectar production. (PI Leopold).      270,000 AUD ongoing

2019 - 2021 Increasing knowledge and profitability of cropping on Ironstone gravel soils (GRDC), CIs: Murphy, Hoyle, Clode, Whiteley, Leopold, Saunders, Rate, Santini, Kilburn & Jones. Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC).               450,000 AUD 

2019   BHP-Billiton. Innovative cover systems for mine site remediation (PI Venneklas & Leopold). 199,442 AUD

2018-2020. DIPIRD exGRDC    Characterisation of Ironstone gravels – Environmental significance for land use management. (PI Leopold).                       50,000 AUD

2017 Department of Water, WA. Infiltration in the spearwood dunes – Environmental significance under a drying climate. (M. Leopold) 2017.                  12,000 AUD 

2012-17 CRC for Polymers – Polymers for Improving Soil Moisture Management & Croppin Productivity (D. Murphy, J. Bougoure, F. Mathes, M. Leopold, G. McGrath, A. O'Donnell, L. Barton, D. Gleeson)total budget 1,217,000 AUD

2015 CSIRO Australia , Delivering enhanced agronomic strategies for improved crop performance on water repellent soils in WA (L. Barton and M. Leopold) 160,000 AUD

2014-16 World Wide University Network (WUN), Ancient Soils & Modern Land Use - A Challenge for CZ Science. (M. Leopold, D. Gleeson, A. Rate) 40,000 AUD ongoing

2013 'The 'Critical Zone Concept' in the southern hemisphere.' Research collaboration award (RCA) UWA. (M. Leopold, D. Gleeson, G. McGrath, S. Banwart) 10,000 AUD

2013-14 Residence time of soils on landscapes Perth-USAsia Cente. (M. Leopold and O. Chadwick, University of California in Santa Barbara). 10,000 AUD

2015 Critical Zone National Office, NSF-US support for US PhD students to attend summer school at UWA. (M. Leopold) 10,000 AUD

2007 - 2013 Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory: Weathered profile development in a rocky environment and its influence on watershed hydrology and biogeochemistry. Cooperation project with the University of Boulder, USA (PI S. Anderson and 14 intern. project partners). NSF: 06-588; proposal 0724960. 05/2007 – 05/2011. total budget 5,000,000 USD


2011 Jungquartäre Hangsedimente als Archive der Landschaftsgeschichte in der Colorado Front Range, U.S.A. (J. Völkel and M. Leopold, DFG-Az. VO585/15-1) 250,000 EUR

2011 "Colluvial fillings below the settlement Niederhummel (Linear Band Pottery age), District of Freising, Germany" (M. Leopold DFG-Az. LE1531/4-1) 20,000 EUR

2008 Genesis and age of dunes near Abensberg and Siegenburg (Niederbayern, Lkr. Kelheim), (J. Völkel and M. Leopold DFG-Az. VO585/13-1)45,000 EUR

2007 Near surface geophysics and sedimentological studies at the former glacial Lake Devlin, Front Range, Colorado, USA (M. Leopold DFG-Az. LE1531/2-2) Part II 50,000 EUR
2006 Geophysical and sedimentological studies at the former glacial Lake Devlin, Front Range, Colorado, USA (M. Leopold DFG-Az. LE1531/2-1) Part I 40,000 EUR

2005 Characterization of soils and slope sediments in the Front Range north of Boulder, Colorado, USA (Leopold444USA111/8/05). 08/2005 – 10/2005; 5,000 EUR

External Partner of DFG-funded projects

2011 PROSA ‘„High resolution survey of the geomorphodynamic in rapidly changing proglacial systems of the Alps“ (PROSA). (DFG-Az. BE1118/26-1). Phase 1 Role: External expert for geophysical surveys. Successful renewal Phase 2 in 2013.
External budget ~ 40,000 EUR

2010 Sedimentology of the upper subsurface near the archaeological excavation below the Acropolis, Greece (DFG-proposal Prof. Dr. Zimmer, KU Eichstätt, DFG-Az. ZI335/7-2) 10,000 EUR

Previous positions

Senior Scientist at the
Technical Univerity Munich TUM
Science Center Weihenstephan

Current projects

- Australian Critical Zone network --> estalishing phase with 5 Australian university partners

- Innovative cover systems for mine site rehabilitation in collaboration with BHP and O'Kane.

- Water repellence in WA sandy soils. In collaboration with CRC for Polymer, ex Grains GRDC, WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

- Subsurface hydrology in WA karst systems using electrical resistivity tomography (in collaborations with ANSTO, WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority - Kings Park.

- Subsurface conditions of high alpine Mauna Kea, Hawaii - in collaboration with University of Hawaii.

- Geoarchaeological studies of the Dampier Archipelago. In collaboration with the UWA Center for Rockart

Teaching overview

Coordinator BSc of Science
with major in Environmental Science

Unit coordinator:
EART3338, Land Capability Assessment
ENVT4401 Advanced Land Use Management

Teaching into
ENVT2236 Soil Science


Soil Science, Geomorphology, Geoarchaeology, Shallow Geophysics


French (basic)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research expertise keywords

  • Soil science
  • Geomorphology
  • Critical zone science
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Shallow geophysics


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