Geoscience Research Themes

Geosciences at JCU boasts a globally recognised research profile, as recognised by scores of 5 for "Geology" and "Physical Geography and Environmental Geosciences" and a score of 4 for "Geochemistry" in the 2015 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) ratings.

We are at the forefront of research in a number of geoscience themes, including:

Economic Geology

Chang, Dirks, Spandler, Cheng, Corral, Ford, Huizenga, Roberts, Placzek

Through the world-renonwed Economic Geology Research Unit (EGRU), and with close industry ties, we are engaged with comprehensive research on a range of mineral systems. Our current focus is on porphyry-epithermal-skarn deposits, Archean lode gold, rare earth elements, Sn-W-Mo systems, and U deposits.

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Environmental Geoscience

Bird, Wurster, Plasczek, Joyce, Beaman, Munksgaard, Dirks, Daniell, Rowe, Haig

Environmental Geosciences researches the ‘critical zone’ – the skin of the earth where soil, water, plants, humans and climate interact. Research in this theme is concerned with understanding these interactions: how they have evolved in the past, hoe they operate in the present, and how they will change into the future in the face of population growth, land use pressure, food security issues, pollution and climate change.


GIS/Remote Sensing

Joyce, Duce, Daniell, Beaman, Maier

The remote sensing group uses satellite, airborne, and field survey data to map and monitor the environment. They have a large emphasis on using drone technology to complement field survey, and have some of the most sophisticated sensor (hyperspectral, thermal, and photogrammetric camera) and platform technology in Australia. Ongoing projects include mapping the Great Barrier Reef, monitoring water circulation and thermodynamics on the reef, documenting sites of archaeological significance, long term mangrove monitoring, and horticultural yield estimates.


Marine Geoscience

Daniell, Beaman, Roberts, Joyce, Duce, Smithers, Ridd

Marine Geoscience researches the history and structure of the ocean floor. It is a broad research theme incorporating disciplines such as sedimentology, basin analysis, geophysics, oceanography, and benthic habitat mapping. A detailed understanding of the structure of the seabed and sub-seabed enables our research to focus on a diverse range of activities ranging from energy security, geohazards, the evolution of the Great Barrier Reef, and the responses of benthic habitats to climate change and anthropogenic influences.

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Petrology and Geochemistry

Spandler, Sanislav, Huizenga, Huang, Cheng, Rubenach, Whitehead

Using the state-of-the-art analytical facilities in JCUs' Advanced Analytical Centre, we investigate a range of Earth processes, including; continent formation and evolution, magmatism related to plate tectonic processes, Mantle petrology and geochemistry, magma fertility, the evolution of metamorphic rocks, and whole Earth geochemical cycling.


Sedimentology and Palaeontology

Roberts, Dirks, Hilbert-Wolf, Placzek, Knutsen

Our research in continental sedimentary systems, and the origins and evolution of life on Earth regularly reach high profile science journals and feature in general-interest  Science forums. In particular, our reserch on the new hominid "homo Naledi" is receiving ongoing international attention.

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Structural Geology and Tectonics

Dirks, Sanislav, Spandler, Roberts, Henderson

We are actively researching the tectonic evolution and associated metallogeny of Eastern Australia, the south-west Pacific region, and central and southern Africa.