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Research Activities 2011




The PRISE group operates as an externally funded group within the Research School of Earth Sciences, providing expertise and supervised external access to the Research School’s specialised equipment in the areas of geochronology, geochemistry and archaeometry. PRISE academic staff are also involved in research projects supported by successful grant applications, as well as supervising activities of both RSES and international postgraduate students.

As in previous years, PRISE staff maintained an active involvement in wide-ranging collaborative research projects with academic colleagues throughout the world, in addition to the provision of research and analytical skills to industry and Government agencies on a commercial basis. These collaborative projects are an important source of income for the group and therefore for the School, helping to fund technical support staff. A total of $498,528 was paid to Areas within the School for 2011 instrument use and invoice overheads.

During 2011 PRISE hosted twenty-three local and international visitors, most of whom were involved in collaborative projects using the SHRIMP, Laser ablation ICPMS and/or TIMS analytical facilities. PRISE staff also participated in fieldwork in Antarctica, Botswana, Cambodia, Chile and South Australia.

Following the departure of Emma Mathews in late 2010, we were pleased to welcome Dr Bin Fu, who joined the team in July to provide much-needed technical support. His expertise and commitment are very much appreciated.

Some areas of current research include:

  • Multi-isotopic and trace element zircon studies to constrain magmatic evolution of plate margins and continental reconstructions; combined U-Th-Pb, Lu-Hf, Ti geothermometry, trace and REE chemistry, and oxygen isotope studies.
  • Geological connection between West Antarctica and Patagonia since the late Paleozoic: Tectonism, Paleogeography, Biogeography and Paleoclimate.
  • Development of in situ sulphur isotope analytical protocols for the SHRIMP, including new protocols for the analysis of the minor isotopes 33S and 36S.
  • Use of sulphur isotopes to aid in understanding the origin and conditions of formation of metal sulphides and sulphates.  Developments and characterisation of new S sulphide and sulphate isotope standards.
  • Bioarchaeology in early Cambodian populations and in situ oxygen, carbon and strontium analysis of human teeth (ARC-funded Discovery Project).
  • Placing realistic constraints on the timing of world-wide Neoproterozoic glacial events: a critical examination of the “Snowball Earth” hypothesis.
  • The growth, geochronology, evolution and mineralisation of cratons.
  • Understanding the migrations of prehistoric populations through direct dating and isotopic tracking of their mobility patterns (ARC-funded Discovery Project).

Associate Professor Mark Fanning
Manager, PRISE