Debra Colarossi

Photograph of Debra Colarossi.PhD Candidate
BEd, University of South Africa (UNISA)
BSc (Hons) Geology with distinction, University of the Witwatersrand
MSc (Dissertation), University of the Witwatersrand


Office: F1


Developing the use of luminescence chronometers to establish the timing of late Quaternary environmental changes in central southern Africa

Supervisor(s): Geoff Duller and Stephen Tooth


Debra was awarded her BSc (Hons) in Geology with distinction and her MSc by dissertation by the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. She was an NRF funded postgraduate student and the recipient of the GSSA Haughton Award in 2011 for her Honours dissertation “Clay mineral and soil texture analysis of Quaternary alluvial fan palaeosols on Heelbo game farm, eastern Free State, South Africa”.  She worked in the Geo-Luminescence Laboratory at the University of the Witwatersrand while completing her MSc titled “Geology and Geochronology of the Nyl River floodplain sediments, Limpopo Province, South Africa” on the OSL dating of tributary fan sediments in donga systems.

Debra is currently a DCDS funded student working towards the development of luminescence dating and its application to southern African sediments.  The aim of her research is to use quartz and feldspar to obtain comparable chronologies for several locations with independent age controls.  This will enable the timing of late Quaternary environmental changes across central southern Africa to be established.

Group affiliation

  • Aberystwyth Luminescence Research Laboratory
  • Quaternary Environmental Change research group
  • Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA)
  • Young Earth Scientists Network
  • Quaternary Research Association (QRA)
  • British Society of Geomorphologists (BSG)

Research Interests

  • Luminescence dating
  • Sedimentology
  • Donga systems


Aberystwyth University

  • Academic tutor for Physical Geography (F840)
  • Practical demonstrator for Rocks and Minerals course

University of the Witwatersrand

  • Demonstrator for Geology I, Sedimentology II and Geological Mapwork
  • Demonstrator for undergraduate fieldtrips for Geology I (Tswaing impact structure, Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Sterkfontein), Sedimentology II (Durban, KZN), Structural Geology III (Barberton)


Conference publications:

Colarossi, D. and Evans, MY. (2011). Palaeo-environmental characterisation using clay mineralogy: A case study of the Heelbo hillslope deposit, Free State Province and the Diepdrift hillslope deposit, Limpopo Province, South Africa. In: Ekosse, G-I.E, de Jager, L and Ngole, VM (eds.). An Innovative Perspective on the Role of Clays and Clay Minerals, and Geophagia on Economic Development. Book of Conference Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Clays and Clay Minerals in Africa, and 2nd International Conference on Geophagia in Southern Africa, Bloemfontein, South Africa, pg191-198.