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Research Activities 2012




The PRISE group operates as an externally funded unit within the Research School of Earth Sciences, providing analytical and research expertise to clients and collaborators in the areas of geochronology, geochemistry and archaeology.  While the current emphasis is necessarily on commercial projects, PRISE staff have also continued their involvement in research projects supported by successful grant applications, both domestic and international. As in previous years, projects have been primarily SHRIMP-based and focussed mainly in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Multi-dimensional zircon studies have combined SHRIMP analysis of U-Th-Pb, oxygen isotopes, Ti geothermometry, trace and REE geochemistry with Lu-Hf analysis by Neptune MC LA ICPMS. This approach has proved to be particularly valuable and widely applicable. Mark Fanning has been working on the age and composition of the East Antarctic Shield and determining the age of the oldest granitic rocks in northern Patagonia. Richard Armstrong has been involved in development of protocols and standards for sulphur isotope analyses on the SHRIMP and Bin Fu has continued his research into oxygen isotopes in zircon and the timing of mineralisation in the Victorian goldfields.

In addition, Mark Fanning and Richard Armstrong supervised activities of both RSES and international postgraduate students. In August we were pleased to welcome to our group Ms Paula Castillo, who has begun her PhD studies under the supervision of Mark Fanning.

During the year, PRISE hostedtwenty-one local and international visitors, working co-operatively on a wide range of geological, geochemical and archaeological projects. 

Through the provision of research and analytical skills to industry and Government agencies on a commercial basis, as well as enhanced cost recovery on collaborative projects, the PRISE group has managed to generate income of just over $1M during 2012. This has been achieved in a financial environment not conducive to export earnings and has required a huge commitment in both time and effort that has been sustained throughout a very challenging year.  A total of $299,979 has been transferred to Areas within the School for instrument use and a further $235,725 paid into School funds in the form of invoice overheads.

Technical support from the Mineral Separation laboratory staff has been pivotal to our success and PRISE staff wish to extend their thanks and appreciation for the exceptional service provided by Shane Paxton in particular. Thanks are also due for assistance provided by technical staff responsible for instrument maintenance.

This year saw a rearrangement of responsibilities within the PRISE group and the appointment of a new Board of Management. We are grateful to our colleagues on the Board for their support and advice.

Associate Professor Mark Fanning
Manager, PRISE