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The creation of knowledge relating to our dynamic planet is our focus, through bold field programs in geology, volcanology, geochemistry, geophysics and marine geoscience, and through innovation in the enabling technologies of analytical geochemistry and computational geoscience.

We excel in industry collaborative research focused on ore deposits through the world-renowned Centre for Ore Deposit and Earth Sciences (CODES), CRC ORE and the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Transforming the Mining Value Chain (TMVC).

Knowledge creation is partnered with knowledge dissemination in the form of a comprehensive undergraduate program, industry-tailored short courses and Master’s program, and by sought-after research training opportunities at Honours, Masters and Ph.D. levels.

Postgraduate projects available for the current round are shown on the Research Degrees site under the School of Natural Sciences.  However, other projects become available on a regular basis.

Research Specialisations and Strengths

Computational geoscience research at UTAS involves the implementation of new algorithms, or the development of new computer applications.  Both high-performance computing and portable computing platforms are used, appropriate to the dataset or intended end-user.  Research areas include the analysis of long duration seismic array datasets to investigate the ocean storm energy in the ambient seismic wavefield, the constant background of low-level signals.

University of Tasmania researchers have pioneered the use of ‘Big Data’ machine learning techniques applied to spatial data, in particular, multiple layers of data including satellite and airborne geophysics data layers.  These techniques enable the prediction of useful properties, such as mapped lithology and rock unit boundaries.  Another family of techniques allow new patterns to be revealed in large datasets.  Throughout this work, the emphasis is on computers contributing to, and complementing, input from humans.

A further area of innovation is in data visualisation.  University of Tasmania researchers in Earth Sciences have developed ways of using animation and human-computer interaction to improve the way that inferences can be made from large scientific datasets, or those in 3D and 4D. The research results in new insights, adding value to existing data, and also in new applications that may be used by other researchers worldwide.

Key Researchers

Anya Reading: Ambient seismic tomography, Seismic array investigations of ocean storms, Magnetotelluric imaging of the Earth’s crust and mantle

Michael Roach: Pure and applied geophysics

We investigate Earth’s fundamental processes and events through our strengths in geology, geochemistry and geophysics of ancient continental provinces and marine sedimentary sequences.

Key Researchers

Ross Large: Trace elements in ancient oceans

Sebastien Meffre: Tectonics, Geochronology

We have a long history of research leadership and strength in economic geology.

Our research strengths include:

  • ore deposit formation;
  • volcanology;
  • geochemistry;
  • sedimentary basins;
  • structural geology;
  • applied geophysics;
  • ambient noise seismology;
  • Earth informatics (‘Big Data’);
  • geoenvironmental;
  • analytical geochemistry.

Key Researchers

David Cooke: Economic Geology, Metallurgy

Julie Hunt: Geometallurgy

The Earth’s mantle and deep crust lie beyond the reach of deep drilling, so must be investigated using geophysical techniques such as seismic tomography and magnetotelluric imaging. These techniques make use of the varying speed of seismic waves, or the varying electrical properties of the deep Earth, to map crust and mantle structure in 3D.  The 3D geophysical images enable tectonic structure to be discovered. Field instrument deployments allow pioneering research into new areas of the planet.  UTAS scientists have been involved in geophysical field deployments in mainland Australia, Tasmania and Antarctica.  The Antarctic field deployments often involve co-located seismic recorders and GPS recorders to determine both the deep structure and the motion related to ice-sheet changes.

Tracing the composition of the deep Earth, including the recycling of surface components, requires investigation of mantle-derived magmas and the xenoliths they entrain during ascent. Partial melting in the mantle generate a variety of magma compositions, which testifies to the heterogeneous nature of the Earth’s interior and the complex processes affecting magmas during ascent and emplacement (melt differentiation, mixing, assimilation, degassing, etc). At UTAS we explore the geochemistry and petrology of mantle-derived magmas and mantle xenoliths at both oceanic and continental settings, as well as active continental margins. We aim at providing insights into petrological and geochemical composition, including stable and radiogenic isotopes, of mantle sources by studying intrusive and extrusive rocks, melt and fluid inclusions in phenocrysts and mantle xenoliths.

Using observation, experimentation, and modelling, the UTAS researchers:

  1. investigate the generation and evolution of primitive magmas in a variety of geodynamic settings,
  2. study the processes and products associated with melt/fluid-facilitated overprinting of mantle lithosphere, such as cryptic and modal metasomatism, including megacryst and diamond formation,
  3. examine asthenosphere-lithosphere interactions, and
  4. study the potential links between volatile mobility and fluid speciation in Earth’s mantle and processes that lead to lithosphere destruction, continental break-up and origin of certain mineral deposits (e.g. diamonds, sulfide Cu-Ni-PGE, chromitites).

We are renowned for using modern analytical tools at the micro-scale or smaller to address large-scale phenomena observed within magmatic provinces, their plumbing and ore-forming systems, with implications for mantle-lithosphere-atmosphere-biosphere interactions.

Key Researchers

Vadim Kamenetsky: Kimberlites and flood basalts, Carbonatite magmas

Vadim Kamenetsky: Melt and Fluid Inclusions

In Australia there are 1000s of kilometres of coastline. The investigation of our coasts and marine environments is essential to maintaining the health of Australia’s environment and economy. The Discipline of Earth Sciences has a long term and continuing research strength in Marine Geoscience associated with ocean basins and coastal zones.

This research specialization is highly interdisciplinary, integrating geophysics, geology, geochemistry, sedimentology, paleotology, marine and biological sciences to address topical research questions and today’s grand challenges of energy, resources and climate change.

Solid Earth components of this specialization are the history and morphology of the ocean floor and its margins, plate tectonics today and throughout geological time. Sources and compositions of marine sediments and their transport processes, influenced by climate change throughout geological time. Finally, resources of the deep sea.

Marine geoscience research critically depends on access to the seafloor. We have long-standing collaborative relationships with Oceanographic institutes such as the CSIRO’s Marine National Facility (MNF), New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the University of Hawaii, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) USA, and GEOMAR, Germany. Our research scientists regularly participate in the Integrate Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) drilling voyages.

Key Researchers

Rebecca Carey: Submarine and subaerial volcanology, sedimentology.

Martin Jutzeler: Sedimentology and Volcanology

Michael Roach: Marine geophysics

Research in volcanology at the University of Tasmania is across subaerial and submarine volcanic environments and processes.

The volcanology group at the University of Tasmania is internationally recognised as a leader in the field of volcanism, with research strengths in subaerial and submarine volcanic environments and processes, and quantitative approaches to solving problems in volcanology and volcano-sedimentary processes. Current research areas include magma ascent processes of both silicic and basaltic volcanism, eruption dynamics of the shallow conduit and vent systems, the role of hydrostatic pressure in modulating eruption and volcanosedimentary processes in deep submarine settings, and the evolution and degradation of continental and oceanic intraplate and arc volcanoes in subaerial and submarine settings.  

Our research relies on leading innovative field studies in both marine and terrestrial settings to collect geological and geophysical data that address fundamental questions in earth sciences. Our research approaches are highly collaborative with national and international research groups and we regularly utilise Australian and international marine platforms (e.g., the Australian research ship RV Investigator, and the Integrated Ocean Discovery Program’s ships) to conduct our submarine-based research.

The University of Tasmania has a 20-year history of research in volcanology, and are leaders in investigation and analysis of ancient mineralized volcanic rocks. More recently, University of Tasmania researchers have been applying the understanding of modern submarine volcanic systems to ancient submarine volcanic arcs and associated mineral deposits.

Key Researchers

Rebecca Carey: Submarine and subaerial volcanology, sedimentology

Martin Jutzeler: Sedimentology and Volcanology

Honours Research, and Summer Research Scholarship

The Earth Sciences honours program attracts students from around Australia and the world who want to undertake a specialised course with an emphasis on different mineral districts, ore deposit geochemistry, isotope chemistry, volcanic and tectonic environments, geophysical exploration, and environmental geology.

For more information refer to the Bachelor of Science with Honours course page.

Enquiries about undertaking Honours, please contact: Dr Martin Jutzeler

Available Projects

The MESH expedition collected an exceptional sample suite from the 2012 deep submarine silicic eruption of Havre, Kermadec arc. Sediment cores sampled a well-preserved pumice-rich volcaniclastic sequence deposited by unknown sedimentary processes during the 2012 eruption. The core also contains older pumiceous deposits that have never been identified before. This project aims at understanding how these sediments were emplaced off-dispersal axis, and reconstruct from which eruptive phase they belong. The student will carry out facies description, componentry, grain shape and grains size analysis, geochemistry fingerprinting, and collaborate on sampling for 13C dating. Both sedimentology and volcanology approaches will be used, and results will be compared with the large dataset and eruption models currently built by numerous students worldwide.

This study is part of a huge effort from UTAS researchers and international colleagues to unravel eruption and transport behaviour in submarine eruptions. This study will allow to expand our understanding of the eruption from a different perspective, and using deposits that are not yet linked to a specific phase of the eruption. The project has the potential of a standalone scientific paper.

SupervisorsMartin Jutzeler, Rebecca Carey
Last updated:18 October 2023

The project focuses on an epithermal prospect a few km from the Cargo copper porphyry mineralisation on the edge of the Cargo Intrusive Complex, 30km from the NSW town of Orange and 14km west from Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley Operations.

The primary goal of the study is to characterise the mineralisation, document with volcanic facies that host the deposit within the Cargo Volcanic Complex and determine the age of mineralisation.

Location New South Wales
Funding Battery Metals
SupervisorsSebastien Meffre, David Cooke, Martin Jutzeler
Last updated:27 October 2023

Multiple thin basaltic beds were cored during ODP Expedition 126 in the Sumisu intra-oceanic rift, Izu-Bonin arc. Study of this beautiful basaltic succession will allow answering critical questions for the understanding of submarine volcanism and marine sedimentation of volcanic particles. Are these basaltic beds related to large subaerial stratovolcanoes 60 km away, or from a local deep seamount? Are these facies derived from fall deposits onto water, or turbidity currents? If from a subaqueous origin, can we reconstruct the water depth at the vent? This study will characterise lateral facies variations in several ODP cores to interpret transport and depositional processes in deep basins. Glass composition and volatile content of the volcanic glass (and possibly melt inclusions in olivine) by FTIR will give insights on the geochemical signature and eruption water depth, and contribute to interpretation on possible provenances. This study includes sedimentology, volcanology, and geochemistry.

Location Sandy Bay campus, Tasmania
Funding Martin Jutzeler grant
SupervisorsMartin Jutzeler, Rebecca Carey and Sandrin Fieg
Last updated:18 October 2023

Lode gold mineralisation at the world class Dead Bullock Soak (DBS) mining camp is hosted within a sequence of Paleoproterozoic meta-turbidites of the Dead Bullock Formation. The Dead Bullock Formation has been divided into several stratigraphic units composed of meta-siltstones, sandstones, and chert; some of these units are preferential hosts to vein-hosted gold mineralisation. The Upper Blake Beds (UBB) typically occur stratigraphically above the recognized most prospective host units and have not been described in detail. Recent insights into the controls on gold mineralisation at DBS indicate that some facies within the UBB could be prospective to host gold mineralisation within a favourable structural framework.

The primary goal of this study is to carry out an analysis of the sedimentological characteristics and produce a detailed stratigraphy of the Upper Blake Beds, with the intention to sub-divide/classify the UBB into constrained depositional facies. Some of the new units may exhibit traits considered favourable for hosting gold mineralisation, or at least, provide a more robust stratigraphy for geological modelling.

The researcher will have access to a large repository of high-resolution photos of drill core photos, hyperspectral scanning imagery, and a database of multielement geochemistry and logging data. Ideally the researcher will be able to spend time at the Granites DBS mine site to work with and log type sections of drill core; subject to logistical considerations. It is expected that the researcher may choose to collect samples for petrographic, mineralogical, and/or geochemical analysis.

SupervisorsMatthew Cracknell, Michael Baker and Alexander Willcox (Newmont)
Last updated:27 September 2023

The Rocky Cape Region in northwest Tasmania is host to Neoproterozoic sedimentary rocks that formed during one of Earth’s most chaotic climatic periods, termed ‘Snowball Earth’. In the Central African Copperbelt, these same aged rocks host world-class sediment-hosted Cu-Co deposits, which suggests this time period or these rock types may be important for mineralisation. The age of the Tasmanian glacial rocks is poorly constrained. Available age data contradict the established stratigraphic correlations to the type localities in the Adelaide Superbasin (Sturtian and Marinoan glacial events).

This honours project will involve field work and core sampling at MRT to collect samples of glacial diamictite and cap carbonates from northwest Tasmania. Geochronology data will be collected from detrital zircons, and calcite U-Pb data will be collected to constrain the age of Tasmanian Neoproterozoic glacial events. This project has the potential to produce significant results that will contribute to global studies of Neoproterozoic glacial events. These studies are important in understanding Earth’s climate tipping points and how climate is impacted by geological processes.

SupervisorsSheree Armistead, Clive Calver (MRT)
Last updated:27 October 2023

Mineral species from the tourmaline supergroup show remarkedly diversity in their geological environments. They have complex major, minor and trace element compositions, variable isotopic signatures and are stable under most conditions (Testa, 2019). Tourmalines can form in wide range of P–T conditions, encompassing diagenesis, low-grade metamorphic settings, and low temperature, low-pressure hydrothermal fluids (e.g., Henry and Dutrow, 2012). Whilst they cannot precipitate at Earth’s surface condition, they can likely form below 150ºC and 0.06 GPa (Dutrow and Henry, 2011). Tourmaline is also stable at high temperatures depending on pressure and chemical composition, with a melting point between 725 and > 950ºC (van Hinsberg et al., 2011). Tourmaline can be stable at ultra-high pressures such as those occurring in subduction zones (e.g., the dravite structure breaks down between 6 and 8 GPa; Krosse, 1995). Tourmaline can provide constraints on the temperature range of ore formation, either through analysis of fluid inclusions or stable isotopes, as well as understanding of co-existing mineral assemblage stability (Testa, 2019). Additionally, it can record the redox conditions in the source fluids which will influence ferric/ferrous and Mn3+/Mn2+ ratios in tourmaline. In terms of acidity, tourmaline is stable under highly acidic to neutral conditions in aqueous fluids (e.g., Henry and Dutrow, 1996).

The broad P-T-X conditions where tourmaline is stable, along with its compositional and textural sensitivity to diverse geological environments, and the negligible intracrystalline element diffusion in its structure make tourmaline an exceptionally valuable mineral for reconstructing geological history (e.g., Testa, 2019). This honours project will primarily focus on ore-related magmatic-hydrothermal, metamorphic, and pegmatitic tourmalines. By means of microanalytical techniques (e.g., EMPA, LA-ICP-MS, Raman spectroscopy) and geothermometry analyses (fluid inclusions) the candidate will study the correlation between the original fluid responsible for tourmaline formation and the resulting mineral chemistry. From a research perspective, this honour projects represents a step closer to understanding the origin and evolution of magmatic-hydrothermal, metamorphic and pegmatitic fluids. From an applied perspective, this project will aid monitor physicochemical conditions that control ore precipitation in magmatic-hydrothermal systems (e.g., fluid flux, fluid compositions, fluid mixing and boiling), and thus supporting mineral exploration. This study involves mineralogy, geochemistry, and economic geology.

LocationSandy Bay Campus, Tasmania
SupervisorsFrancisco Testa, Lejun Zhang
Last updated:19 October 2023

This general category is specifically provided to encourage students who have an interest in applied geophysics, but are not keen on the advertised projects. There are several potential projects that can be arranged. Generally we do not arrange sponsor-supported projects in years with low numbers of expected geophysics students. Potential supervisors are: Michael Roach and Mathew Cracknell.

Location Australia-wide
SupervisorsMichael Roach, Matthew Cracknell
Last updated:12 October 2023

This general category is specifically provided to encourage students to directly contact Michael and Matthew if they have an interest in geophysics, but are not keen on the advertised projects. There are many potential projects that can be arranged. Generally we do not arrange sponsor-supported projects in years with low numbers of expected geophysics students.

Location Australia-wide
SupervisorsMichael Roach, Matthew Cracknell
Last updated:12 October 2023

This general category is specifically provided to encourage students who have an interest in economic geology (ore deposit geology), but are not keen on the advertised projects. There are several potential projects that can be arranged. Potential supervisors are: David Cooke, Lejun Zhang, Michael Baker, Robert Scott.

Find out more about supervisors here.

Last updated:15 November 2023

This general category is specifically provided to encourage students who have an interest in environmental geochemistry, but are not keen on the advertised projects. There are several potential projects that can be arranged. Potential supervisors are: Owen Missen, David Cooke, Matthew Cracknell and Sebastien Meffre.

Find out more about supervisors here.

Last updated:15 November 2023

This general category is specifically provided to encourage students who have an interest in igneous petrology and geochemistry, but are not keen on the advertised projects. There are several potential projects that can be arranged. Potential supervisors are Francisco Testa, Ivan Belousov, Paul Olin, and Sebastien Meffre.

Find out more about supervisors.

Location To be negotiated
Last updated:15 November 2023

This general category is specifically provided to encourage students who have an interest in LA-ICP-MS methods, mineral chemistry or geochronology, but are not keen on the advertised projects. There are several potential projects that can be arranged. Potential supervisors are: Ivan Belousov and Paul Olin.

Last updated:18 October 2023

This general category is specifically provided to encourage students who have an interest in submarine or subaerial volcanology and/or sedimentology, but are not keen on the advertised projects. There are several potential projects that can be arranged. Potential supervisors are: Rebecca Carey, Martin Jutzeler, and Karin Orth.

Last updated:18 October 2023

The College of Sciences and Engineering offers the Dean's Summer Research Scholarship for eligible students. Research projects in Earth Sciences are generally completed over the summer of your second and/or third undergraduate year of study.

If you want to know more about what Summer Research can mean for an Earth Sciences student, check out Rhiannan's amazing story. While an undergraduate student she travelled on a research voyage, continuing the same project from her first summer scholarship into a second, which then led to an honours year!

Visit the College website for general information on the Summer Research Scholarship.

If you're interested, the first step is to express interest to your Earth Sciences lecturers. They can help identify research opportunities and get you on track. It all starts with a conversation!

Affiliated Research Centres