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Research Activities 2008

Earth Physics


Click on the links below to read the 2008 Earth Physics research highlights or Click HERE to download the PDF version 48 pages 4.9Mb



Research into the structure and dynamics of the Earth uses a range of physical and mathematical techniques and is grouped into the three main themes of Seismology and Mathematical Geophysics, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, and Geodynamics and Geodesy. The work spans observational, theoretical, laboratory, computational and data oriented studies, all directed towards understanding the structure and physical processes in the earth's interior, the crust or the earth's fluid envelope.

Two members of the Earth Physics academic staff received awards this year. Prof B.L.N. Kennett received the Gold medal in Geophysics from the Royal Astronomical Society, London, for his work in seismology and the Peter Baume Award from ANU for his exemplary record of research achievement and leadership. Prof K. Lambeck contributed to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as a substantial contributor to the IPCC since the inception of the organization.

PhD theses were submitted by T. Prastowo ("Mixing in buoyancy-driven exchange flows"), M. Coman ("Convective circulation forced by horizontal gradients in heating"), J.Dawson ("Satellite radar interferometry with application to the observation of surface deformation in Australia")and G. Estermann ("Contribution of mountain glacier melting to sea-level changes: Recent past and future"). New Postdoctoral academic staff commencing during 2008 include M. Ward in ocean modeling, S. Pozgay and A. Coffey in seismology, G. Luton on geodesy and S. Bonnefoy in computational geophysics.

RSES is taking a major role in Component 13 of the National Cooperative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS): "Structure and Evolution of the Australian Continent", which is managed through 'AuScope'. RSES hosts activities in Earth Imaging through support of portable instrumentation and transects, Geospatial through gravity measurements and testing of portable equipment for satellite laser ranging, and Simulation & Modelling through 'pPlates' software for tectonic reconstruction. As a linked activity between three AuScope components (Imaging, Geospatial and Access and Interoperability), the Terrawulf II cluster computer at RSES provides capability in geophysical inversion and the computation reduction of observational data.

Research Projects


Center for Advanced Data Inference


Terrawulf II - Malcolm Sambridge



Detecting Australian Earthquakes with InSAR - John Dawson

Relative sea-level changes due to ocean bottom pressure changes caused by thermal expansion - Gisela Estermann

Drought in the Murray-Darling Basin - Paul Tregoning

Trial of the French Transportable Laser Ranging System (FTLRS) - Jason Zhang


Geophysical Fluid Dynamics


Mantle Evolution, Dynamical and Chemical, Earth and Venus - Geoff Davies

The roles of bottom topography and internal gravity waves in horizontal convection - Ross Griffiths

The effects of mesoscale ocean-atmosphere coupling on the large-scale ocean circulation - Andrew Hogg

Energetics of the global ocean overturning circulation - Graham Hughes

Effect of thermal diffusion on the stability of strongly tilted mantle plume tails - Ross Kerr

Testing the Plume Hypothesis:  Laboratory models of Subduction-plume interaction for the Cascades and Tonga-Lau Convergent Margins - Chris Kincaid

The dynamics of solidifying lava flows with a Bingham yield strength rheology - Jesse Robertson


Seismology and Mathematical Geophysics


Multi arrival tomography - Juerg Hauser

Ambient noise tomography in Southeast Australia - Pierre Arroucau

Seismic Tomography With a Transdimensional Markov Chain - Thomas Bodin

Holistic inversion of time-domain airborne electromagnetic data - Ross Brodie

Seismic Investigations of Lithospheric Transitions between the Northern and Southern Australian Cratons (BILBY) - Sara Pozgay

Exploring deep Australia with the WOMBAT array - Nick Rawlinson

Dynamic objective functions in seismic tomography - Nick Rawlinson

Gawler Craton Array - Michelle Salmon

On The Inner-Outer Core Density Contrast From New PKiKP/PcP Amplitude Ratios And Uncertainties Caused By Seismic Noise - Hrvoje Tkalčić

A global dataset of frequency-dependent body-wave travel times: towards a global finite-frequency tomography of the Earth's mantle - Christophe Zaroli