By Pat with help from Tim and Michael

In this blog post i have summarised the different characteristics and opportunities provided by the many earth science societies which are most active in Australia. These societies are particularly underutilised by our generation because most of us think that there is nothing to gain through membership. However as this list shows, not only can they provide you with materialistic support (including money, conferences and workshops), but they regularly provide platforms for professional and social networking, which help you get jobs, establish collaborations for research and provide a rare attentive audience for those horrible geology jokes.

Geological Society of Australia (GSA)

Website:  Facebookgsa

Areas of interest: Earth sciences (see specialist groups below), education, geoheritage and geotourism

Membership background: Primarily academics and government employees (e.g. state geological surveys, CSIRO, and GA), less so industry workers. Total membership ~2200.

Specialist groups: Palaeontology; coal geology; earth sciences history; economic geology; environmental engineering and hydrology; geochemistry, mineralogy and petrology; geological education; planetary geoscience; sedimentology; solid earth geophysics; tectonics and structural geology; volcanology.

Active in Canberra?: Yes!

Bursaries/funding: Divisional and specialist groups will occasionally offer funding to attend GSA related conferences, workshops or field trips.

Conferences/seminars: Australian Earth Sciences Convention, some specialist groups also run regular conferences (e.g. SGTSG), monthly divisional talks

Publications: Australian Journal of Earth Sciences (AJES); TAG (national newsletter); Divisional newsletters; field trip guides; conference abstracts.

Student membership costs: from $25 (including graduates)

Other activities: The more active state divisions will often run local geological field trips for members. Geoheritage and geotourism (e.g. National rock garden)


Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG)

Website: FacebookAIGAreas of interest: Hard and soft rock exploration, mining and resource economics.

Membership background: Primarily Industry workers, less so academic and government employees.

Active in Canberra?: Not directly, often running events in collaboration with other societies. There is no ACT division, however we can sometimes apply for NSW bursaries.

Bursaries/funding: $1000–$4000 for third year undergraduate, honours and PhD students. Divisional and specialist groups will occasionally offer funding to attend AIG conferences.

Publications: AIG Journal (beginning this year); AIG News (national newsletter); field trip guides; conference abstracts.

Membership costs: Undergraduates: FREE; Graduates: ~$100

Other activities: Generally a very active society offering regular workshops and field trips across Australia. Industry employment surveys. JORC competent person accreditation




AUSIMMAreas of interest: Primarily industry related including geology, geotechnical, mining engineering, metallurgy, environmental and management.

Membership background: Dominantly industry workers in the above fields. Total membership ~14000.

Bursaries/funding: Too many to list and some are huge (e.g. $20,000 per annum). Some awards are specific to fields/topics. See here and here for details.

Student membership costs: Undergraduates: $11, Graduates: from $66.

Conferences: Numerous small conferences and workshops covering all aspects mentioned above.

Other activities: State student chapters run regular professional networking events. Numerous forms of professional accreditation including JORC, VALIM, CoalLog, chartered professionals and BPEQ.


Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (ASEG)


Areas of interest: Geophysical techniques used for hard and soft rock exploration.

Membership background: Industry, academia and government.

Bursaries/funding: The ASEG has a research grant fund for all geophysics research students and offers several student scholarships that vary between state branches

Conferences/Seminars: The ASEG conference and exhibition is held every 18 months, the next will be in 2016 in Adelaide and is a collaborative effort between the Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists, the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia and the Australian Institute of Geoscientists. Technical talks throughout the year including a distinguished lecture series sponsored by the Society of Exploration Geophysics (international)

Publications: Preview and Exploration Geophysics come free with membership, both are available in print and online

Student membership costs: Student’s can choose to join the Student Sponsorship Program, such that their membership fee is paid for by Rio Tinto or Origin Energy.

Other activities: Provides members with access to educational programs (short courses and lectures) and holds regular social events found on the ASEG website. Past events include: golf, trivia, luncheons and Christmas parties.


Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia (PESA)


Area of interest: Oil and gas formation and exploration, including sedimentology.

Membership background: Industry, academia and government workers.

Active in Canberra? Yes!

Student membership cost: FREE (including PhD students!)

Bursaries/funding: State divisions offer funding between $500–$4000 for undergraduate, honours, masters and PhD students in energy related projects.

Talks: Monthly (-ish) divisional talks

Publications: Conference proceedings and PESA News.

Other activities: Workshops, short courses, field trips and many “Luncheons”.


Sydney Mineral Exploration Discussion Group (SMEDGE)


smedgCaters to: Sydney based mineral explorers; primarily restricted to Eastern Australian geology.

Active in Canberra?: Obviously not, but a good excuse to drive to Sydney.

Conferences: Mines and Wines

Talks: Monthly talks

Membership: FREE to all

Other activities: Winter and summer cruises on Sydney Harbour.

Publications: Powerpoint presentations of monthly talks; conference abstracts.

Australian Geoscience Information Association (AGIA*)

*Not to be confused with the Australian Garlic Industry Association


Caters to: Geoscience information workers from government (corporate members: GA, GSWA and NTGS) and industry (corporate members: Woodside, Chevron and Rio Tinto)

Active in Canberra? No.

Student Membership costs: $20 (incl PhD students)

Publications: Newsletter (The Great Australian Byte), Occasional Paper Series.

Activities: Workshops and symposia.


International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)



Areas of interest: Groundwater

Membership background: Groundwater researchers, industry professionals and government employees.

Groups: Country and state/province/territory chapters; International Commissions (Groundwater and Climate Change; Groundwater Outreach; Karst Hydrogeology; Managed Aquifer Recharge; Mineral and Thermal Waters; Regional Groundwater Flow); International Networks (Early Career Hydrogeologists’ Network; Burdon Groundwater Network; Network for Coastal Aquifer Dynamics and Coastal Zone Management; Network on Fractured Rock Hydrogeology; Network on Groundwater and Ecosystems; Urban Groundwater Network).

Bursaries/funding: assistance to attend conferences from chapters and specialist groups.

Conferences/seminars: Australian Groundwater Conference; annual international congress; other specialist group conferences. Monthly (-ish) ACT chapter talks; public lectures.

Publications: Hydrogeology Journal; IAH technical reports and guides; international, country and state/territory chapter newsletters; conference abstracts.

Student membership costs: from $35

Other activities: Field trips; workshops; international mentoring program.