Earth Science Research Group

Introduction

Earth sciences at UNE deal with our planet's geological and prehistoric past and the cataclysmic processes that shaped the earth. Our internationally-recognised staff has diverse expertise in vertebrate and invertebrate palaeontology, biostratigraphy, tectonics, as well as sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic geology.

Research

Palaeontology

Further information is also available on the Palaeoscience Research Centre web pages.

Palaeo-biodiversity of Australian Cambrian and Ordovician biotas

Redichia takooensis (trilobite) 

John's research contributions have primarily focused on documenting the palaeo-biodiversity of Australian Cambrian and Ordovician biotas (ca. 444 to 541 million years ago) and using these key fossils to answer major questions relating to evolution, biogeography and palaeoecology during this critical time interval. He has also used these fossils in the relative dating and correlation of strata around the globe in order to refine the geologic timescale. The multidisciplinary nature of his work includes numerous publications on taxonomy, phylogeny, biostratigraphy, biogeography, taphonomy and palaeoecology.

John's current research focuses on Cambrian (540-510 million-year-old) fossils, especially from the Flinders Ranges and the globally significant Emu Bay Shale Konservat-Lagerstätte on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. John is very active in the Australian and international palaeontological communities. He was the Secretary of the Association of Australasian Palaeontologists from 2006 to 2010, is currently a corresponding member of the International Subcommission on Cambrian Stratigraphy, and serves on the editorial boards of the peer-reviewed journals Alcheringa, Memoirs of the Association of Australasian Palaeontologists, and Zootaxa.

Contact Professor John Paterson

Mesozoic Palaeontology

Dinosaur excavation 

Phil is especially interested in Australia's own Mesozoic past, particularly the range of dinosaurs and other vertebrates. Working with the Australian Opal Centre in Lightning Ridge, Phil is investigating an exciting new cache of dinosaur and other vertebrate fossils from the Early Cretaceous of Australia. His other main research focus lies with the dinosaur fauna of the Late Cretaceous Wapiti Formation (Alberta, Canada) and its intermediate position between the polar dinosaurs from Alaska and the better-known fauna from southern Alberta and Montana. Phil's research is multifaceted, covering a range of subject areas systematics including taphonomy, behaviour, palaeopathology, and palaeoecology. 

Phil has earned an international reputation having appeared on numerous documentaries and as a scientific consultant for various films including March of the Dinosaurs, Walking With Dinosaurs 3D, Planet Dinosaur, and The Great Canadian Dinosaur Hunt.

Contact Dr Phil Bell

Microfossil group conodonts (with Adjunct Prof Ian Metcalfe)

Prof. Metcalfe's palaeontological research focuses mainly on the microfossil group conodonts which he uses to precisely date marine Palaeozoic and Triassic marine sedimenrtary sequences, to estimate the thermal maturation levels of sedimentary rocks using their Colour Alteration Indices (CAI), to test palaeogeographic models using conodont biogeography, and most recently, using stable oxygen isotopes, to estimate ancient sea surface temperatures. He has also researched radiolarian microfossils from deep-sea sediments that were deposited in ancient Tethys Ocean basins to work out the age and age-duration of these now lost oceans.

His international reputation is for studies of conodont microfossils, the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic tectonic framework, evolution and palaeogeography of East and SE Asia (eastern Gondwana and the Tethys ocean basins), and for studies of the Permian Triassic boundary and end-Permian mass extinction in China and more recently in Australia. Recent major research projects also include high-precision U-Pb zircon dating of volcanic tuffs (ashes) in Permian-Triassic sequences in China and Australia and Permian-Triassic timescale calibration.

Geology

Tectonics, sedimentology and biostratigraphy

......with Dr Luke Milan - coming soon
......with Dr Nancy Vickery - coming soon

Student Opportunities

A number of HDR (MSc. and PhD.), honours (GEOL400) and undergraduate (ERS381 and SCI395) Earth Science research projects are available at UNE. Please contact the relevant academics for more information.

Geology Projects

New England Orogen
  1. Nature of the boundary between the Girrakool and Sandon Beds
    Keywords: sedimentology; geophysics; geochemistry; mapping
  2. Coffs Harbour Association
    Keywords: sedimentology; geophysics; geochemistry; mapping
  3. Base of the Hastings Block
    Keywords: sedimentology; clast geochemistry; mapping
  4. Emmaville metasediments
    Keywords: sedimentology; mapping; stratigraphy; biostratigraphy
  5. Wandsworth Volcanics
    Keywords: mapping; geochemistry, petrography, airborne geophysics, stratigraphy, volcanology
    Contact: Luke Milan
  6. Drake Volcanics
    Keywords: mapping; geochemistry, petrography, airborne geophysics, stratigraphy, volcanology
    Contact: Luke Milan
  7. Paleogene to Neogene sequence in the Inverell to Glen Innes district
    Keywords: Paleogene, Neogene, mapping, alluvial deposits
    Contact: Nancy Vickery
  8. E-W faulting in the Wongwibinda Metamorphic Complex
    Keywords: structural/geological mapping, monazite geochronology, tectonics
    Contact: 
    Luke Milan
  9. Amphibolites of the Wongwibinda Metamorphic Complex
    Keywords: Whole rock geochemistry, geological mapping, petrology, thermobarometry
    Contact: Luke Milan
  10. Pegmatites in the Wonwibinda Metamorphic Complex
    Keywords: Geochronology, petrology, geochemistry, geological mapping
    Contact: Luke Milan
  11. Significance of altered Granites in the Wongwibinda Region
    Keywords: Mapping, Petrology, geochemistry
    Contact: Luke Milan
  12. Parallel structure of the Demon fault
    Keywords: Geophysics; structural geology
    Collaboration: (maybe with Bob Musgrave of the Survey)
    Contact: Luke Milan
Tamworth Basin
  1. Correlation of the Namoi Formation
    Keywords:
    sedimentology, mapping, volcanics, geochemistry
  2. The nature of the Mostyn Vale and Keepit Conglomerate boundary
    Keywords:
    sedimentology, mapping, volcanics, geophysics
  3. Nature, geometry and distribution of the andesitic olisoliths in the Mostyn Vale Formation, Tamworth Belt
    Keywords:
    sedimentology, mapping, volcanics, geochemistry, geophysics
Serpentinite Belt
  1. Baryulgil serpentinite
    Keywords:
    tectonics; ophiolites; mapping; geochemistry, geophysics
    Contact: Nancy Vickery
  2. Layered complex in the serpentinite belt
    Keywords:
    volcanics, mapping
    Contact: Nancy Vickery
  3. Great Serpentinite Belt (north of the Manilla 100K map sheet)
    Keywords:
    Serpentinite, magnetics, mapping, structural geology
    Contact: Nancy Vickery
Metamorphic projects
  1. Migmatisation at Wonwibinda
    Keywords: Mapping, metamorphic petrology, geochemistry, THERMOCALC
    Contact: Luke Milan
  2. Various Wongwibinda projects (see New England Orogen projects # 8, 9, 10, 11) 
  3. Mole granite aureole
    Keywords:
    metamorphism, mapping, mineralisation
    Contact: Nancy Vickery
Clarence Morton Basin
  1. Leightons range conglomerate (RJL)
    Keywords:
    sedimentology, mapping
  2. Towollom basalts
    Keywords:
    tectonics, mapping;
    Contact: Luke Milan
  3. Chillingham Volcanics
    Keywords:
    volcanics, mapping
    Contact: Luke Milan
Environmental Geochemistry
  1. Large sources of arsenic regional scale
    Keywords:
    environmental geochemistry; arsenic
    Contact: Luke Milan
  2. Mole River arsenic
    Keywords:
    environmental geochemistry; arsenic
    Contact: Luke Milan
Coal
  1. Sedimentology and coal seam correlation of the Gunnedah Colliery CCL701
    Keywords:
    coal; sedimentology
  2. Sedimentology and correlation of the Goonbri Formation. Maules Creek Sub-Basin.
    Keywords:
    coal; sedimentology
  3. Sedimentology and coal seam correlation of the Maules Creek Formation – Southern Maules Creek Sub-Basin.
    Keywords:
    coal; sedimentology
  4. Nymbodia coal measures
    Keywords:
    coal; sedimentology
Gold Projects
  1. Nuggety gold occurrences in the White Hills Fm. (Victoria + industry supported)
    Keywords:
    gold, geochemistry, mapping, geochronology
    Contact: Luke Milan
  2. Nine Mile Gold deposit (Victoria + industry supported)
    Keywords: mapping, petrology, gold, geochemistry
    Contact: Luke Milan
  3. Tourmalinites, Au Cu Mo Bi W veins and Porphyry potential of the Eastern Stawell Zone and Western Ballarat Zone (Victoria + industry supported)
    Keywords:mapping, petrology, geochemistry
    Contact: Luke Milan
Mineralisation in the NEO
  1. Gilgai granite (MSC. OR Hons.)
    Keywords:
    geological mapping, geophysical intepretation, petrography and granite related mineralisation.
    Contact: Nancy Vickery
  2. Skarn mineralisation south of the Inlet Monzonite
    Keywords:
    Granite, skarn, magnetics, mapping
    Contact: Nancy Vickery

Palaeontology Projects

Vertebrate projects
  1. Small ornithopod diversity from Lightning Ridge (PhD.)
    Keywords:
    Dinosaur, hypsilophodont, ornithopod, Cretaceous, taxonomy, ontogeny
    Contact: Phil Bell
  2. Juvenile ornithopods and evidence of hatchling dinosaurs in the Griman Creek Formation (MSc)
    Keywords:
    Dinosaur, hypsilophodont, ornithopod, Cretaceous, taxonomy
    Contact: Phil Bell
  3. Description of associated theropod dinosaur vertebrae, Lightning Ridge (MSc)
    Keywords:
    Theropod, dinosaur, taxonomy, osteology
    Contact: Phil Bell
  4. Titanosaur (Sauropoda) teeth from Lightning Ridge (Hons)
    Keywords:
    Sauropod, titanosaur,
    Contact: Phil Bell
Invertebrate projects
  1. Cambrian trilobites from allochthonous limestone blocks in the Murrawong Creek Formation, Gamilaroi Terrane, southern New England Orogen, NSW (Hons or MSc)
    Keywords: Taxonomy, morphology, biostratigraphy, biogeography, tectonics
    Abstract: TBD
    Contact: John Paterson
  2. Cambrian faunas of the Wagonga Beds, South Coast of NSW (Hons)
    Keywords: Taxonomy, trilobites, brachiopods, molluscs, 'small shelly fossils', biostratigraphy, biogeography, tectonics
    Abstract: TBD
    Contact: John Paterson
  3. Arthropod trace fossils from the Cambrian Kangaroo Island Group, South Australia (Hons)
    Keywords: Trilobites, palaeobiology, behaviour, taphonomy, palaeoenvironments
    Abstract: TBD
    Contact: John Paterson
Biostratigraphy

Biostratigraphy

  1. Biostratigraphic significance of fossiliferous limestone clasts within the lower Cambrian White Point Conglomerate, Kangaroo Island, South Australia (Hons)
    Keywords: Taxonomy, trilobites, brachiopods, molluscs, 'small shelly fossils', biostratigraphy, stratigraphy
    Abstract: TBD
    Contact: John Paterson

Further information

Our People

Staff

Professor John Paterson
Convener of Earth Sciences
Phone: +61 2 6773 2101
jpater20@une.edu.au

Associate Professor Paul Ashley
Adjunct Associate Professor
Phone: +61 2 6773 2348
pashley@une.edu.au

Dr Phil Bell
Lecturer in Earth Sciences
Phone: +61 2 6773 2329
pbell23@une.edu.au

Dr Luke Milan
Lecturer
Phone: +61 2 6773 2019
lmilan@une.edu.au

Dr Rudy Lerosey-Aubril
Lecturer
Phone: +61 2 6773 3296
rlerosey@une.edu.au

Adjunct Professor Ian Metcalfe
imetcal2@une.edu.au

Dr Ed Saunders
Lecturer
Phone: +61 2 6773 2843
ed.saunders@une.edu.au 

Dr Nancy Vickery
Senior Lecturer
Phone: +61 2 6773 2496
nvicker2@une.edu.au

Earth Science in the Media
Lab and Field Facilities

Mineral, Rock, Fossil and Drill Core Collection

We maintain a comprehensive collection of rock and fossil samples from research collections. These are predominantly from the New England region (the most comprehensive collection of New England rocks worldwide). Approximately 75,000 rock samples are catalogued.

We also maintain a small core library, with a selection of drill cores from Eastern Australia.

The Mineral, Rock, Fossil and Drill Core Collection is available for research work undertaken by all students and staff of UNE, as well as other universities and research institutions.

Thin Section Facility

Facilities are available for the preparation of thin, polished thin and polished sections, including fluid inclusion plates.

Section manufacture includes thin sections, polished thin sections, polished blocks, doubly polished fluid inclusion plates, impregnation of soft or fractured samples, and K-feldspar staining.

The Thin Section Facility is available for research work undertaken by all students and staff of UNE.

Operated and curated by:

Malcolm Lambert
P: +61 2 6773 2900
E: mlamber7@une.edu.au

Fluid Inclusion Facility

A USGS heating-cooling stage is available for fluid inclusion studies.

Administered by:

Dr Nancy Vickery
Phone: +61 2 6773 2496
Email: nvicker2@une.edu.au

Related publications

Contact

If you are interested in some of the projects we are undertaking or have ideas that fall into similar areas, please contact:

John Paterson

Professor John Paterson
Convener of Earth Sciences
jpater20@une.edu.au