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Report to Council 2005

RESEARCH SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES (RSES)

Major Disciplines:

Major Disciplines: Earth Sciences; Chemical Sciences

STAFF AND STUDENTS

Total Staff (FTE)

Academic Staff (FTE)

General Staff (FTE)

Total Student EFTSU

Higher Degree Research (EFTSU)

Higher Degree Coursework (EFTSU)

Other Postgraduate (EFTSU)

Under- graduate (EFTSU)

Non-award (EFTSU)

128.75

57.15

71.6

46.5

43.5

0

 0


GRANTS

ARC ($)

NHMRC ($)

Other ($)

TOTAL ($)

4,981,893

0

5,325,845

10,307,738

Research

The Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES) is one of the top ten university-based geoscience programs in the world and a research leader in the physics, chemistry, material properties and environmental conditions of the Earth. Its role is to conduct research at the highest international level and take leadership in defining new directions in geophysics and geochemistry, particularly those relevant to the geologic setting and needs of Australia . The work of the school is for administrative purposes grouped into four areas: Earth Chemistry, Earth Physics, Earth Materials, Earth Environment.

Earth Chemistry

utilises elemental and isotopic abundances to examine the processes affecting the Earth and solar system. Tracer investigations range in scale from that of the solar system to diffusion at the atomic scale yielding information as diverse as elemental fractionation during solar system formation, to the nature of Earth's earliest crust and atmosphere, to the origin of ore deposits, to the evolution of the Himalayas .

Earth Environment

specialises in revealing high-resolution environmental records preserved in fossil and modern corals, cave deposits, and layered sedimentary sequences to investigate global processes, such as climate and sea-level change, human evolution and migration, and landscape evolution. Research is underpinned by laboratory facilities that enable analysis of virtually any trace element or isotope system.

Earth Physics

investigates Earth structure and dynamics using a range of advanced physical and mathematical techniques. Research focuses on the responses of the ocean and solid earth to different forcings and using earthquakes as probes for the structure of the Australian mantle. Current programs emphasize interdisciplinary interactions among geodynamics, seismology and geomagnetism, geophysical fluid dynamics, and computational geophysics.

Earth Materials

focuses on the interrelated chemical and physical behaviour of rocks under natural conditions using state-of-the-art facilities for characterisation and mechanical testing with the goal of understanding the structure and composition of the Earth. Key issues are identified through field observations and then examined by laboratory study. Insights thus gained are then extended through suitable models to improve our understanding of Earth.

Prizes, Honours and awards

Prof B.L.N. Kennett was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

Prof K. Lambeck was elected to the Académie des Sciences, Institut de France.

Prof T.M. Harrison was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Prof B.L.N. Kennett was awarded the Murchison Medal of the Geological Society of London and the Jaeger Medal of the Australian Academy of Science.

Dr D. Rubatto received the J.G. Russell Award from the Australian Academy of Science.

Dr A.M. Walker received the President's Award of the Geological Society of London.

Prof K. Lambeck was elected President of the Australian Academy of Science.

 

Fellowships and senior appointments

Five Fellows of the Royal Society of London (100% of Australian earth scientists)

Twelve Fellows of the Australian Academy of Sciences (50% of earth science FAA)

Ten Fellows of the American Geophysical Union (80% of all Australian Fellows)

Five Honorary Fellows, Geological Society of America (70% of all Australian GSA Honorary Fellows)

Two Associates of the Royal Astronomical Society, London

One Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Nine ISI Highly Cited Researchers

 

Education

RSES graduates have been unusually successful, with >80% since 1971 remaining engaged in full-time geoscience research. Total research student enrolment 1995-2005:

 

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

PhD (Dom./Int.)

45

27/18

49

28/21

53

31/22

50

31/19

45

27/18

40

25/15

33

20/13

33

21/12

47

26/21

44

23/21

44

23/21

M.Phil

(Dom./Int.)

1

1/0

1

1/0

1

1/0

1

1/0

-

1/0

-

0/0

1

1/0

1

1/0

-

0/0

-

1/0

-

0/0

Total PhD completion rate: 98.7%; Percent completing within four years (PhD) or two years (M.Phil): 47%; Percent of domestic students holding Australian Postgraduate awards: 56%.

 

Significant Outreach Activities in 2004

RSES hosted the International Seminar of Petrology workshop on Advanced Analytical and Experimental Techniques in Petrology , 5-12 February 2005, attracting 30 graduate students from over 10 countries.

PhD student Ms. M. O'Byrne created the exhibition “flowvis: the art of fluid dynamics”, which was shown at the ANU School of Art, Parliament House, and museums, art galleries, universities, secondary schools, and science fairs in every state and territory. The exhibition received significant local and national press coverage.

Dr C. Lineweaver presented ANU Science Week Lectures, Planetary Science and Extraterrestrial Life , at the Sydney Powerhouse Museum and Melbourne Museum of Natural History. His March 2005 Scientific American paper " Misconceptions about the Big Bang " was published in 15 languages in 19 international editions.

Prof T.M. Harrison delivered the Australian Academy of Science's National Science Week public lecture entitled “ From Hell to the Himalaya ”. An article featuring his work appeared in the 14 May New Scientist .

RSES actively participated in the National Youth Science Forum providing several day-long lectures and lab tours.

Prof T.M. Harrison and Dr G. Davies each presented commentaries for ABC Radio National's Perspective program.

RSES ran successful summer scholar, research intern, and work experience programs.

ANSIR provided equipment for support of national needs in reflection seismology, including industrial applications.

 

Key Achievements against 2005 goals

We made faculty appointments in the chemical oceanographer (Dr Michael Ellwood) and marine microanalyst (Dr Stephen Eggins) positions of the Marine Sciences Initiative which links RSES, SRES, DEMS, and BOZO.

Detailed drawings for SHRIMP SI are largely completed and fabrication is underway on the mass analyzer and key electronic components. SHRIMP SI protocols developed for stable isotope ratio measurements have significant implications for commercialization. A sample stage automation package was implemented and made available as an ASI product.

The Planetary Sciences Institute made its second and third faculty appointments: Dr Yuri Amelin (cosmochemist) and Dr Rachel Salmeron (astrophysical modeller) both join us in 2006. Dr Lineweaver established research collaborations between RSES and RSAA colleagues.

Purchase and installation of a LIEF and MEC-funded ultra-short wavelength laser ablation ICPMS system for isotopic and elemental analysis of environmental, geological and archaeological materials.

Purchase of a dedicated 14 C accelerator (LIEF and MEC-funded) jointly supported by RSES and RSPhysE. Laboratory refurbishments are underway in anticipation of mid-year installation of the instrument at RSES.

Implementation of the Earth Sounding Initiative was forestalled in 2005 by an unsuccessful search. A new search for the continuing position in seismology is underway.

Initiative to co-locate the Department of Earth and Marine Science on the RSES campus to enhance geoscience teaching and research remains high campus priority but awaits a new source of capital funds.

 

Key Directions for 2006

We have begun a comprehensive review, in the context of the College of Science , of the undergraduate teaching across the geosciences at ANU. We hope to significantly integrate RSES staff into the teaching program thus providing enhanced research opportunities for colleagues in the Department of Earth and Marine Science.

Finalize ap pointments in the senior ocean modeller and marine carbon budget faculty positions of the Marine Sciences Initiative .

Implementation of LIEF and MEC funded enhancements to ANSIR facilities, including new capabilities for joint seismic and magnetotelluric studies.

Purchase and prepare for installation the high-resolution, high sensitivity organic mass spectrometer funded by LIEF and MEC. This instrument will be used to probe biomarkers tracing life back to early Earth and study biohazards and pollutants in modern Australia .

Fabricate and assemble fundamental components of the SHRIMP SI mass spectrometer with a view to initial testing in early 2007.

Provide leadership within the Earth Sciences community to develop major infrastructure via opportunities available through NCRIS.

Complete search for the continuing position in Seismology currently underway through the Earth Sounding Initiative.

Integrate RSES' strategic position into the College of Science 5-year rolling plan.

Inquiries : Prof T.M. Harrison

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