Photos From Our RSES Adventures. Vol.1

As part of our annual Student Conference, this year we held our first ever RSES Photography Competition! Over the coming months we are going to be sharing with you some of these photos, and the stories and science behind them.

This week we start on a high with the winning images from our three categories; Where We Go, Who We Are and What We Study, as well as the overall winner. Enjoy!


Where We Go

Milky Way + Tent – Dr. Jonathan Pownall


The photo was taken in August 2014 during a trip to Ladakh in the Indian Himalaya with Dr. Marnie Forster.  We were undertaking geological mapping and structural analysis of shear zones related to the exhumation of UHP coesite-bearing eclogites.  One night, camping by Tso Kar lake (4500 m), I opened my tent, and the sky was amazingly clear, and the Milky Way looked pretty special.  The lamp was still on in the kitchen tent… so I balanced my camera on a rock and took a long exposure photo.


Who We Are

Bonarelli – Bethany Ellis


This photo was taken during a day trip for the Urbino Summer School in Paleoclimatology in Italy. We were looking for evidence of palaeoenvironmental change in the geological record and the Bonarelli Event (OAE2) is a perfect example. It’s an anoxic extinction event during the Creataceous period. With the oceans being starved of oxygen, the mass extinction of organisms occurred which then formed the organic rich dark layers of shales seen in the photo. This extinction event is used as time marker to form the boundary of the Cenomanian and Turonian ages about ~93Ma.

In the photo, you can see a keen palaeoclimatologist looking at the shales as she tries to piece together the Bonarelli Event stratigraphy.


What We Study

A foraminifera catching and beginning to eat a copepod – Dr. Oscar Branson

BRANSON - Foram eating.jpg

This photograph captures a life-or-death struggle between two ferocious sea-beasts, both are less than a millimetre long.

In the upper left is the foraminifera Orbulina universa. This complex tangle of spines is formed by a single-celled organism, much like an amoeba. The object that looks like a piece of popcorn in the centre of the spines is a porous calcite (calcium carbonate) shell that the foraminifera makes and lives around. Each of the spines protruding from the central shell is a single crystal of calcite, with a thin tendril of the cell running up it. The golden dots along these spines are photosynthetic microbes that live in these extended tendrils, which the cell “farms” for food.

In the lower right is a calanoid copepod, a microscopic crustacean. This complex, multi-cellular beast is a powerful, ambush predator. It has two sets of antennae crammed with tactile and chemical sensors, finely tuned for detecting prey and avoiding predators. The antennae also act as its main form of propulsion, allowing it to zip through the water with surprising speed. Its compact, transparent body has five pairs of legs, a heart and a central nervous system.

The copepod doesn’t stand a chance in this encounter. Besides being a benevolent farmer, Orbulina universa is also a voracious predator, capable of catching and consuming prey many times its size. The foraminifera does not hunt actively, but sticky tendrils out beyond the tips of its spines can act like a microscopic, drifting cobweb – a trap for an unsuspecting visitor like the copepod. This copepod was completely devoured in just a few hours.


The Grand Prize

Loch Ard Gorge, Victoria, Australia – Daniel Cummins


This photo was taken on a very windy, cold and wet, early August 2016 morning – on an impromptu road trip down the Great Ocean Road. After capturing the sunrise over Island Arch, I took up a spot on the cliff over Loch Ard Gorge, set up my tripod and captured a series of long exposure shots. Using a very dark filter, I calmed the rough seas to give a great look at what was under the crashing waves.


Up Next: The People’s Choice Winners!


Staff vs Student Lawn Bowls

The Research School of Earth Sciences has a long history of pitching the staff against the students in a biannual sporting competition. The staff have dominated in the last few student vs staff sporting competitions, especially cricket, where many of the student team had never bowled a ball or held a bat before. Read more about last year’s cricket match here.

This year strategy overtook tradition and the students challenged the staff to the inaugural student vs staff lawn bowls tournament. There was more participation than ever before with even a few of our youngest coming along to support their parents.

The weather was a sunny 29 degrees as we all made our way down to the RUC. The tension was thick and strategies were forming as the instructor explained the rules of lawn bowls.

Continue reading “Staff vs Student Lawn Bowls”

Part 1: Taking Discrete Samples

This week’s blog post is coming from Jennifer Wurtzel, who is currently on a boat analyzing sediment cores from the ocean floor in the Western Pacific Warm Pool!
I am currently serving as a Physical Properties Specialist on Expedition 363 aboard the JOIDES Resolution. As part of the Phys Props team, I help run instruments that scan our sediment cores for physical characteristics (e.g. density) right as they come on board so that the “Stratigraphic Correlators” can identify patterns in the core, which will be used to guide the coring process.

Continue reading “Part 1: Taking Discrete Samples”

When Science meets Street Art

By Tanja

One of the many events held this year as part of the National Science Week was a collaborative project between scientists and artists. It was called Co-Lab: Science meets Street Art, and it is exactly what it sounds like: scientists and artists pair up, scientists have to explain their project in human terms and artists have to then paint their view of that project on a wall. Exciting, right?! I thought so too.

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Week 38: Wee Jasper

This weeks post is from third year Msci geology exchange student Jesse Zondervan who has been visiting RSES for the last year. This was originally posted on the 10th April on Jesse’s personal blog site.

By Jesse Zondervan

The two week mid-semester break started off with a field trip to Wee Jasper, in the bush of New South Wales. After five days of walking around in a field shirt and hat without phone signal I arrived back in civilization on Wednesday evening. Back in Canberra I spent the rest of my time writing for my assignments and the student newspaper. I also worked on the microscope with Janelle and played some boardgames with the B&G boardgames society.

Continue reading “Week 38: Wee Jasper”

Turtles and tap-dancing birds: welcome to an ANU field trip

A field trip takes student blogger Jesse Zondervan to a classroom in paradise on the Great Barrier Reef. This was originally posted on the ANU Science student blog.

By Jesse Zondervan

In a silent group of people, I stand in the dark on a white beach. I listen to sea turtles digging their nests. Torches are not allowed because they may blind the turtles or scare them away to waste their eggs in the sea.

Heron Island is our one-night stopover to One Tree Island, a research island on the Great Barrier Reef, where we’ll be doing a field course for ten days.

Continue reading “Turtles and tap-dancing birds: welcome to an ANU field trip”

Goldschmidt 2016 Yokohama: the field trips (part II)

By Michael

Previous post: Goldschmidt 2016 Yokohama: the conference (part I)

I was fortunate to attend two field trips during my visit to Japan, both before and after the conference itself.

Fuji-Hakone: Spring, forest, cave, and volcanoes around the area

We left Yokohama to the village of Oshino, northeast of Mt Fuji, the location of Oshino Hakkai: the eight springs. This area used to be a lake, lava flows from Mt Fuji covered the lake completely and it dried up. However, groundwater coming from Mt Fuji are still feeding some ponds and springs in the village.

Continue reading “Goldschmidt 2016 Yokohama: the field trips (part II)”

Slices of Time: Geoarchaeology Research Group Launch

By Kelsie

On the 26th May 2016 I attended the launch of the Geoarchaeology Research Group (GRG) which is headed by Associate Professor Tim Denham (ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences). The launch consisted of a series of short talks presenting the range of topics the group has been working on as well as some input from geoarchaeological researchers from the University of Wollongong. I am definitely not an expert in geoarchaeology and so I encourage anyone who wants to know more about it to check out the GRG website. I just think that the stuff they do is really cool and interesting. It’s also quite important.

Continue reading “Slices of Time: Geoarchaeology Research Group Launch”

A Summer at RSES

By Ben Nistor

ANU Summer Scholarship at RSES

As the mid-year holidays approach I start thinking ahead to summer.  After a hectic start to the year (despite trying to “lighten the workload”) and consecutive summers of full time employment in big cities away I intended to give myself a holiday.  This year I would head home and put my feet up. Haha, well that didn’t happen…

Continue reading “A Summer at RSES”

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