Dr Toby Tonkin

Position: Lecturer in Physical Geography

College: College of Life & Natural Sciences

Subject area: Geoscience

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Lecturer in Physical Geography

Teaching responsibilities

I am Module Leader for:

  • Geomorphology
  • Terrain Evaluation
  • Research Methods in Physical and Social Sciences

I also teach on the following modules:

  • Physical Geography of the Anthropocene
  • Imaging Earth's Surface and Subsurface
  • Geographical Methods
  • Key Skills for Physical and Social Sciences

Research interests

My research primarily investigates the character and evolution of landforms in Arctic and Alpine glacial environments. Moraines, for example, represent terrestrial sinks for glacigenic debris and are regularly used as a palaeo-environmental proxy. However, moraines are not ubiquitous in terms of their morphology, structure, sedimentology, or preservation potential, which may vary greatly between different glacial landsystems. An understanding of moraine development is therefore important if the sedimentary signature left by glaciers is to be correctly interpreted.

As such, my work has investigated the internal structure and evolution of ice-marginal landforms by using ground-penetrating radar (Midgley et al. 2013; Tonkin et al. in review), and high-resolution UAV-derived topographic datasets (Tonkin et al., 2016; Midgley et al., in prep.) to aid understanding of the evolution and persistence of these landforms in the geomorphological record. I have worked at a number of sites, including the Norwegian high-Arctic and the Kebnekaise Mountains, northern Sweden.

I am interested in the potential of new technologies (e.g. UAVs and SfM Photogrammetry) for geomorphological and glaciological investigations and have investigated error associated with rapidily evolving UAV-SfM survey approaches (Tonkin et al., 2014; Tonkin and Midgley, 2016). I am also currently involved in a long-term project that is using novel UAV-SfM survey approaches to monitor geomorphologic change along a ~2km reach of a gravel bed river. 

Ice-marginal landforms at Schwarzberggletscher, Switzerland


UAV-derived imagery of proglacial terrain  

Membership of professional bodies

  • British Society for Geomorphology (Member)
  • Quaternary Research Association (Member)


  • BSc (Hons) Geography
  • PGCert Global Environmental Change
  • PhD

Recent publications

  • Tonkin, T.N., Midgley, N.G., Graham, D.J. and Labadz, J.C. (in review) Internal structure and significance of ice-marginal moraine in the Kebnekaise Mountains, northern Sweden. Boreas.
  • Tonkin, T.N. and Midgley, N.G. (2016) Ground-Control Networks for Image Based Surface Reconstruction: An Investigation of Optimum Survey Designs Using UAV Derived Imagery and Structure-from-Motion Photogrammetry. Remote Sens.8, 786.
  • Tonkin, T.N., Midgley, N.G., Cook, S.J. and Graham, D.J. (2016) Ice-cored moraine degradation mapped and quantified using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle: A case study from a polythermal glacier in Svalbard. Geomorphology, 258. 1-10. 
  • Tonkin, T.N., Midgley, N.G., Graham, D.J. and Labadz, J.C. (2014) The potential of small unmanned aircraft systems and structure-from-motion for topographic surveys: A test of emerging integrated approaches at Cwm Idwal, North Wales. Geomorphology, 226, 35-43. 
  • Midgley, N.G, Cook, S.J., Graham, D.J and Tonkin, T.N. (2013) Origin, evolution and dynamic context of a Neoglacial lateral–frontal moraine at Austre Lovénbreen, Svalbard. Geomorphology, 198, 96-106. 

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