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RSES Writing Retreat at Kioloa

By Jess

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.

writing-retreat
Concentration during a writing session (Photo: Jennifer Prichard)

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Mining history and geology of the West Coast region – Tasmania

By Suzette

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.

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Tasmanian Dolerite

By Perinne Tyler

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.

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A moment of terror: public speaking

By Michael

Two weeks ago the Research School of Earth Sciences here at the Australian National University hosted a symposium titled “21st Century Resources“. It was indeed an interesting symposium (or conference? or workshop? or colloquium?) covering a variety of subjects including ore deposits, energy use, climate change, and more.

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.

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Geology of Tasmania

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.

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Part 2: The Measurements

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!
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!

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Skills to pay the bills

By K. Holland and J. Stephenson

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.

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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.

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An unhelpful post on time management

By Jess

So this morning I stumbled on this cartoon:

phd

And it illustrated exactly what I feel like at the moment.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only PhD student feeling like this at the moment.

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PhD Status: It’s Complicated

By Kelsie

I recently crossed the 3 ½ year mark of my PhD, went off scholarship, switched to part-time, got a casual admin job, didn’t get into a graduate program, bought a bunch of IKEA furniture and received reviews for a paper. It’s fair to say that I’m giving a lot of mixed messages about my PhD status.

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Self-conscious science writing

My writing has gone to bits - like my character. I am simply a self-conscious nerve in pain. - Oscar Wilde

by Tim Jones

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.

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Fighting animal cruelty with Cupcakes

by Louise Schoneveld

Throughout August the students and staff of RSES have been baking cupcakes to raise money for the RSPCA shelter in the ACT.

We had a magnificent team of bakers that operated under the team name RSES Cupcake Warriors.

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Exploring the region: when a three-hour trip takes you millions of years back in time

By Jesse Zondervan

Where other people see rocks and cliffs, our geologist student blogger Jesse Zondervan sees another world. Join him as he visits Jervis Bay. This blog was originally posted on the ANU science student blog.

A little kangaroo under a beach umbrella sticks his tongue out at us. A small group of beachgoers surround him, but he seems unperturbed as he lies down to relax.

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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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Deep Carbon Observatory summer school 2016

By Suzette Timmerman

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO; https://deepcarbon.net/) is an organization that investigates the carbon cycle. Researchers from all over the world are linked to this organization in four communities: extreme physics and chemistry, reservoirs and fluxes, deep energy, and deep life. We explore the behavior of carbon at extreme pressure and temperature conditions, how much carbon there is in which reservoirs and how it moves, how it changed over time, and the extreme conditions of life.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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