Australia’s Jurassic mysteries to be unearthed
A long-standing mystery about the geological evolution of the Australian continent could be solved by a new research project.
James Cook University researchers will examine the structure of the Great Artesian Basin – Australia’s most important onshore reservoir for groundwater and hydrocarbon resources.
JCU’s Associate Professor Carl Spandler; Head of Geoscience, Associate Professor Eric Roberts; Emeritus Professor Bob Henderson, and Associate Professor Tony Kemp from the University of Western Australia will undertake the three-year research project, which has been funded by a $280,000 Australian Research Council ‘Discovery Project’ grant.
Dr Spandler said the Great Artesian Basin, formed in the Jurassic age, is one of the least studied assemblages in eastern Australia.
“Our project will change that: we’ll reconstruct the geology and tectonics associated with the now ‘lost’ Jurassic continental margin, and discover the origins of the vast Jurassic sand sheets in the basin. Essentially, we’ll be remaking a lost world,” he said.
Dr Roberts said the project will expand Australia’s research capability through the use of state-of-the art techniques and will provide multiple opportunities for training research students.
“What we’re looking for is an improved understanding of the evolution of the Australian continent and better knowledge of the formation of intercontinental sedimentary basins, which includes better assessment of their groundwater and hydrocarbon resources.”
He said the new knowledge will be of particular significance to the energy and tourism industries as it will directly translate to improvements in the exploration and extraction of resources, and to a better understanding of the setting of many of Australia’s iconic dinosaur fossils.
JCU has won a total of six grants in the latest round of ARC funding, with more than $2.3 million going towards research projects (details below).
Details of ARC grants awarded to JCU researchers:
Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
Dr Thomas Bridge -Trait plasticity and the maintenance of functional diversity of coral reefs $365,058
Dr Laura Brannelly - Effect of disease on reproduction plasticity and evolution in amphibians $365,058
Prof Ron White - Electron scattering and transport for plasma-liquid interactions $595,120
Dr Tracy Ainsworth - Developing a mechanistic basis for coral reef conservation $383,136
Linkage Infrastructure Equipment Grant
Prof Michael Bird - A national facility for the analysis of pyrogenic carbon $358,031