Projects

Below we list current research topics in RSES, with links to relevant researchers and research groups. For a list of potential student projects and PhD topics, please refer to the potential project student page

Experimental Petrology

The amount and site of hydrogen in the upper mantle is important for understanding the geochemical recycling of volatiles, and the evolution of the mantle, atmosphere, and oceans. It has been proposed that the entire water budget of the upper mantle may be accommodated at defect sites in nominally anhydrous...
Current
Zircon and monazite are the two most important accessory minerals in metamorphic and igneous rocks that can be dated by the U-Th-Pb method. Garnet is a key-mineral to establish metamorphic or magmatic conditions encountered by rocks. These minerals all contain significant amounts of trace elements such as Y and REE...
Current

Geochemistry & Cosmochemistry

Exposure dating is based on the principle that cosmogenic nuclides accumulate in surface rocks as a function of time. After a geological process freshly exposes a rock surface, these cosmogenic nuclides build up at a known rate. Measurement of their present-day abundance, in conjunction with knowledge of the rate...
Current
The extensive early Archean rock records preserved in southwest Greenland and western Australia carry a wealth of information on the formation of Earth's early chemical domains, the age and composition of the oldest continents and the character of the early atmosphere and hydrosphere.  Although these rocks range...
Current
Cosmogenic nuclides have become indispensable for dating lava flows. Drs Masahiko Honda and Timothy Barrows are dating lavas that have proven too young to date using traditional K/Ar and Ar/Ar techniques. Volcanism has occurred in western Victoria from the Pliocene throughout the Pleistocene. The style of eruption...
Current
Exposure dating has revolutionised the study of the history of glaciers and ice sheets. By directly dating glacial debris and eroded bedrock, the timing of the advance and retreat of the ice (a sensitive indicator of climate) can be determined with unprecedented reliability. Dr Timothy T. Barrows is using this...
Current
Small zircon crystals found in sediments from the Jack Hills, Western Australia are the oldest terrestrial materials yet identified and provide a unique perspective on Earth's early history, before the start of the preserved rock record at about 4 Ga. The difficulty is that the most ancient zircons, with ages >4 Ga...
Current
Production of the classic Barrovian metamorphic facies series in Scotland was associated with a period mountain building referred to as Grampian orogenesis. Recent geochronological work from the Grampian terrane, Scotland has the Grampian orogenic episode beginning at c . 478 Ma and lasting for less than...
Current
The isotopic composition of oxygen in the solar system is widely variable. On a three-isotope plot of 17O/16O vs 18O/16O there is a linear trend indicating that the predominant variable is the abundance of 16O. Relative to terrestrial compositions, refractory...
Current
At 4.567 billion years old, refractory inclusions are the oldest known objects to have formed in the solar system. They are often referred to as calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions (CAI) because their chemistry is dominated by the refractory oxides of Ca and Al, as well as Ti, forming minerals such as hibonite (CaAl...
Current
Condensation around stars leads to a predictable mineralogy based on the composition of the atmosphere of the star. The condensates, like stars, may be oxygen-rich or carbon-rich. The first presolar grains discovered were all C-rich. Minerals such as diamond, silicon carbide and graphite are resistant to acid...
Current

Palaeoenvironments

Project summary Water resource management is one of the greatest challenges facing sustainable agriculture and urban populations across southern Australia. Key players driving catastrophic droughts in southern Australia are the tropical Indian Ocean Dipole and polar Southern Annual Mode climate systems,...
Completed
Atmospheric dust plumes can affect global climate, but the impact of Australian dust on climate is poorly known even though it is a major dust source. This project will study the magnetism of dust deposits in marine sediments to understand how Australian dust influences climate in order to better predict the...
Current
The project aims to reconstruct deep water carbonate ion and nutrient contents at millennial timescales using high sedimentation cores from the Atlantic Ocean.
Current
This research is part of an ARC Linkage project. Read more about it in this news story.  
Current
Expedition 342 of the IODP
Completed
Magnetotactic bacteria biomineralise magnetic nanoparticles. They are ubiquitous in aquatic environments, so their inorganic remains (magnetofossils) should give rise to sedimentary palaeomagnetic signals. Ancient magnetofossil identifications were sparse until new techniques recently demonstrated their extensive...
Current
Groundwater is a vital water resource in Australia, and the world, and understanding the dynamics of recharge from and discharge to surface waterways is necessary for using our water resources wisely. At ANU, we are developing hydrogeochemical methods to understand groundwater dynamics, including...
Current
The magnetism of sediments provides information on the past behaviour of the Earth's magnetic field. This project will study sediments from the oceans around Australia to understand how the field was recorded and use this information to construct a new generation of computer models that will provide insights into...
Current
Rates of soil formation in North Queensland are being studied on basalt lava flows which are dated by K/Ar. In the semi-arid Hughenden- Charters Towers region (500-600 mm/year rainfall), soils form at rates of ~0.3 mm/1000 years. On the Atherton Tableland, (rainfall 1200-3500 mm/year) rates are significantly faster...
Current
This project addresses the pressing need to understand the growing disequilibrium between today’s fast climate changes and slow ice-volume adjustments, which is significant because this is a key determinant for potential acceleration of sea-level rise. This is a major concern to society, because climate change and...
Current
Paleogeographic reconstructions indicate that parts of the Australian continent have been exposed above sea level for hundreds of millions of years. Paleomagnetic dating of giant weathering profiles (up to 100 m deep) in open pit mines reveals three major periods of deep oxidation: Late Cenozoic (20 Ma to present...
Current

Seismology & Mathematical Geophysics

AusPass is a service dedicated to the acquisition, management, and distribution of passive seismological data in Australia.
Current
ARC Linkage Project 2013 The east Albany-Fraser Orogen in Western Australia represents a modified cratonic margin, with considerable potential for mineral resources. The 3-D structure of the lithosphere in the orogen and the adjacent Yilgarn Craton will be imaged using deployments of passive seismic...
Completed
Most of Earth’s volcanism is concentrated at tectonic plate boundaries, where plates move away from one another to create mid-ocean ridges, or where one plate slides beneath another to form a subduction zone. However, an important and widespread class of volcanism occurs within plates, or across plate boundaries....
Current

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