Geologists were fascinated by the enigmatic origin of the lakes in Tasmania throughout the 19th century. The glacial origin of these lakes was first recognized by Officer in 1895. Nowadays everyone accepts the occurrence of several glaciations and its leading role in shaping the Tasmanian topography including the formation of multiple lakes and moraine deposits, which have been dated from Quaternary to Neoproterozoic in age (Hoffman, Li, 2009).
At the end of November a group of PhD students from RSES headed to ANU’s coastal campus in Kioloa for the first RSES writing retreat.
As expected of a ‘writing’ retreat, a lot of us were writing, but there were also people reading, coding, making figures – any work that can be done from a laptop.
The days had timetabled writing sessions, which were structured in 25 minute long pomodoros1 with 5 minute breaks, and longer stops for morning/afternoon tea and lunch. Working in short intensive sessions with regular breaks really helped to keep focused, and with everyone on the retreat keen to get work done, there was a good sense of solidarity.
Tasmania has a rich history in ore geology and particularly West Tasmania is well-known for its mining industry. The formation of numerous ore bodies in this region were all related to three main geological events: the movement of hot fluids by volcanism in the Cambrian forming the primary minerals, the activity of the Great Lyell Fault exposing and oxidising some of the minerals, and a major orogeny in the Devonian causing the remobilising of the metals into veins and larger crystals. A simplified geological map can be seen below.
Approximately 1/3 of Tasmania’s surface geology consists of dolerite; an area of approximately 30 000 km2. Exposures of this rock form many of the hills and mountains of Tasmania, including some of Tasmania’s most well-known landmarks. During the field trip, we unsurprisingly observed a large amount of dolerite, most notably at Mount Wellington, Cradle Mountain, Cataract Gorge and the Tasman Peninsula.
Being an experimental petrologist specialising in ore deposits myself, I was particularly interested in the third and last day that had the catchy name “Metals for the Millennials“. One of the scheduled talks was about unconventional resources and rare earth elements by Carl Spandler, a professor from James Cook University in Queensland. Unfortunately, he had an unexpected appointment he had to attend, and he asked my supervisor if he could give the talk instead of him (by the way – Carl is also on my supervisory panel). Instead, my supervisor suggested I do it instead. Surprised and exhilarated by the opportunity to speak in front of important people in the symposium, I agreed.
Every two years a group of PhD students disappear into the geological wilderness for the RSES Student Field Trip. In 2014, students spent two weeks camping in the Australian outback investigating the regional geology of Central Australia. After many discussions and presentations about exotic and tropical locations, the student cohort settled on a geological road trip around Tasmania. Here is a quick overview of the geological history of Tasmania and some of the cool sites we managed to visit.
In my last post, I wrote about how we get our samples for moisture and density (MAD) measurements. In this post, I’ll discuss the measurements themselves. We measure three things for MAD: wet mass, dry mass, and dry volume. From these three measurements, we calculate a number of other properties, including porosity, grain density, porewater, and about 10 more. This may sound straightforward, but measuring mass on a boat is not as simple as on land because the boat is rolling!
We attended a workshop called PhD to present, and while the title is rather uninformative and ambiguous, we managed to learn a thing or two about writing a CV, about networking, and the limit of how many scones one person can eat in a sitting. Here we will share our highlights.
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.
A friend and I were discussing our tendency to hedge our bets when writing about science, for example: “The effect is somewhat observed“, “Our results are relatively consistent with”, “We conclude that our writing predominantly sucks”. These vagaries pollute our prose and muddle the mind of our readers. But is it necessary? Let’s start by addressing why scientists feel the need to be so inconclusive. First, science really is uncertain, and nobody wants to give an audience full of braniacs, geeks, and know-it-alls, a reason to think they don’t realise this. Second, writing is an act of psychology, because you don’t know what your readers know or don’t know, so you have to pre-empt the inevitable knowledge gap between you and them. The problem is that it’s impossible to determine the size of this gap and so the default position is to assume a chasm.