News and Events
Geosciences Nepal Earthquake Forum a success!
26 May 2015
More than a hundred students, faculty members and friends attended the School of Geosciences Nepal Earthquake forum at the Old Geology Lecture Theatre on Monday, 25th May 2015. Held in conjunction with Oxfam Australia, Sydney Ideas and the Sydney Environment Institute, the event saw presentations from Professor Geoff Clarke on the geology of the quake, A/Prof Dale Dominey-Howes on disaster planning and management in Nepal, and Wayne Gum, from Oxfam Australia, on current relief efforts.
The forum was held with organisational support from Geosciences undergraduate students, and specifically, the Geosciences’ student society GeoSoc. A total of $2,466 AUD in donations was raised for Oxfam’s relief efforts in Nepal. The forum was prompted by Geosciences’ extensive active research interests in South Asia, across all its disciplinary areas of Geology, Geophysics and Geography. Thank you all for joining us on the night and for your overwhelming support.
20 May 2015
View our Honours Poster Gallery which is on display now in the Madsen Building, School of Geosciences. The gallery is located on the 3rd floor corridor, to the left of the Madsen Building foyer.
Each year, our Honours students are asked to prepare a poster outlining their Honours thesis topic. Here are some of this year's Honours posters.
14 May 2015
Geosciences staff members Assoc Prof Tom Hubble, Dr Maria Seton, Dr Simon Williams, Prof Sally Andrews, Prof Elaine Baker, Prof Phil McManus, Dr David Dall, Assoc Prof Jody Webster, Assoc Prof Jock Keene and Dr Samantha Clarke took part in an RV Investigator Tour on board the Marine National Facility research vessel Investigator on 14th May 2015.
The Investigator is a 93.9 metre purpose-built research vessel, capable of travelling 10,800 nautical miles in a single voyage, carrying up to 40 scientists and support staff, from the equator to the Antarctic ice-edge. The $120 million ship was completed in 2014, and will support atmospheric, oceanographic, biological and geoscience research. The Marine National Facility operates an annual financial year schedule from July to June.
Discover more about the Investigator or explore it via the RV Investigator virtual tour.
Last week, Assoc Prof Tom Hubble was out at sea on this exceptional vessel as the Co-Chief Scientist. Tom, and Scott Nicol from Geoscience Australia, were invited to lead a select team of scientists on the one week geoscience trial voyage to test out the RV Investigator’s brand new deep-marine equipment, including the new coring rig, the dredges and the sub-bottom profiling system. They took cores and dredge samples off the coast of Tasmania and as a result intend to submit a collaborative proposal in the next round of applications.
Tom and Scott will also be participating in Tim O'Hara's (Museum Victoria) five week RV Investigator voyage surveying and investigating deep benthic fauna and habitats of the East Australian Seaboard late next year.
13 May 2015
Presented with the School of Geosciences and the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney.
On 25 April, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in Gorkha district Nepal, just west of the capital, Kathmandu. At least 8,000 people were killed in the earthquake. This Sydney Ideas event, coordinated by the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences, will allow you to hear from three experts about the background and impacts of this disaster
Professor Geoff Clarke will discuss the geological context of the earthquake. Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes will assess its human implications. Wayne Gum, from Oxfam Australia, will discuss ongoing relief efforts in Nepal.
This event is free however attendees are requested to make a donation to Oxfam’s Nepal fund.
Cost: FREE event, with registration required.
Date: Monday 25 May
Time: 6 to 7.30pm
Venue: Old Geology Theatre, Edgeworth David Building Science Rd, the University of Sydney, see the map.
11 May 2015
Jack Devery died on 1 April, 2015. Jack was 95 years old. He was a graduate of, and staff member in, the former Department of Geography. He had served with the Geographical Society for many years and was a representative of the Society on the Geographical Names Board NSW. He was also a first grade rugby league player for South Sydney. There will be an obituary in a future issue of Australian Geographer. Jack will be missed.
The School of Geosciences and The Geographical Society of New South Wales co-hosted a short Tribute to Jack Devery on Friday, May 1st at 1:30 p.m. at The School of Geosciences, University of Sydney.
5 May 2015
Environmental factors similar to those affecting the present day Great Barrier Reef have been linked to a major slowdown in its growth eight thousand years ago, research led by the University of Sydney shows.
"Poor water quality, increased sediments and nutrients - conditions increasingly being faced by the modern day reef - caused a delay in the Reef's growth of between seven hundred and two thousand years duration," said Belinda Dechnik, lead author of an article published in Marine Geology in May.
"It took hundreds more years then we would have expected to establish itself and even longer to attain the complex level of biodiversity that much of the Reef has become famous for."
"While that may appear inconsequential in the 700,000 year history of the Reef even a decade of such delayed growth would have a rapid impact on today's Reef and the experiences of the estimated two million people who visit it every year," Dechnik said.
The research was led by the University of Sydney's School of Geosciences. It was conducted at the University's research station at One Tree Island on the Reef.
Read the full news story.
Sydney shows global leadership in QS World University Rankings by Subject
4 May 2015
School of Geosciences performs strongly in 2015 QS World University Ranking by Subject. The QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2015 have just been released and The School of Geosciences at The University of Sydney is once again performing very well;
Geography and Area Studies =28
Earth and Marine Sciences 51-100
Environmental Sciences 51-100
The University of Sydney was ranked in the top 100 in the world in 34 of the 36 areas covered in the rankings, regarded as the most comprehensive global comparison of universities at individual subject level. The QS World University Rankings by Subject are based on the expert opinion of more than 85,000 academics, who identified the leading institutions within their field and region of expertise, and more than 41,000 employers, who identified the universities that have produced outstanding graduates in a given discipline area. The results are also informed by the analysis of 17.3 million research papers and 100 million citations.
For information about the overall picture at The University of Sydney please click here.
Billy Haworth receives 2015 Esri Young Scholars Award
4 May 2015
We are happy to announce Billy Haworth as the Australian winner of the 2015 Esri Young Scholars Award. Billy is a PhD student at the University of Sydney, who has previously completed a Master of Applied Science and worked as a GIS researcher.
His winning project is entitled: Spatio-temporal analysis of graffiti occurrence in an inner-city urban environment, and looks at the patterns of graffiti found throughout Sydney suburb Surry Hills.
As the recipient of the award, Billy receives a fully paid trip to the Esri International User Conference in San Diego, California from 20 – 24 July. This includes: return flights, airport transfers, hotel accommodation, conference registration and a daily allowance.
In addition to receiving an all-access-pass to the world’s biggest spatial event, Billy's work will also be displayed alongside other international Young Scholars winners, and he will get the chance to meet Jack Dangermond – Esri founder and president.
See more here.
28 Apr 2015
The discovery helps explain the spectacular bend in the famous underwater range, the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, where the bottom half kinks at a sixty degree angle to the east of its top half.
"There has been speculation among geoscientists for decades that some underwater volcanoes form because of fracturing," said Professor Dietmar Muller, from the University of Sydney's School of Geosciences and an author on the research findings published in Nature Geoscience today.
"But this is the first comprehensive analysis of the rocks that form in this setting that confirms their origins."
It has long been accepted that as the Earth's plates move over fixed hot spots in its underlying mantle, resulting eruptions create chains of now extinct underwater volcanoes or 'seamounts'.
Read the full article.
31 Mar 2015
The goal of helping people in Southeast Asia with disabilities be better prepared for disasters has won a team of University of Sydney researchers a place in the Global Resilience Challenge.
"People with disabilities in Southeast Asia are currently four times more likely to die when a disaster strikes than those without disabilities," said Dr Emma Colgaro, the project leader and research fellow from the School of Geosciences.
"The difficulties faced by people with disabilities can include the inaccessibility of evacuation facilities, emergency response staff not being trained to meet their needs and the interruption of crucial support systems during a disaster."
The Global Resilience Challenge is a three-stage grant competition led by a US$150 million effort to aid vulnerable communities in the Sahel, Horn of Africa,
South and Southeast Asia to move from a reactive response to inevitable disasters to pre-planned management strategies.
After successfully competing against 500 applicants for only 17 places the researchers, from the University's School of Geosciences, received US$ 200,000 in funding to develop their proposal.
Read the full article.
27 Mar 2015
Congratulations to our Geoscience graduates Dr Sunil Bajpai, Dr Olivia Dun, Dr Gustavo Hinestrosa Gomez, Dr Lada Phadungkiati, Dr Roshni Sharma and Dr Zoe Wang! Good luck on your future endeavours!
25 Mar 2015
Cyclone Lam, Pam and now Nathan – natural disasters have filled our news in recent weeks. They wreak havoc in poor and vulnerable communities and cost billions in recovery and aid funding.
These disasters happen when a natural hazard – such as a cyclone, bushfire or earthquake – damages human systems. They seem to be becoming more frequent and worse – but are they really?
Join The Conversation with Author Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes.
24 Mar 2015
Scientists have worked out precisely why big sections of riverbank along the lower Murray in South Australia crumbled during drought over the past decade. A section of the banks gave way at Long Island Marina, sending three cars into the river along with a pet cat, near Murray Bridge about five years ago.
Scientists from universities in Adelaide and Sydney hope their research findings can help authorities better prepare for future events. Associate Professor Tom Hubble from the University of Sydney said it was the sort of damage previously regarded as associated with floods rather than dry spells.
"Banks usually fail either at the peak of a flood or during the drawdown phase; as the water level is dropping back to normal and if it drops quickly that's when you usually get the large-scale bank failures," he said.
Read the full news article via ABC News.
Associate Professor Tom Hubble was also interviewed on ABC National Radio this morning and you can listen to the broadcast here.
20 Mar 2015
Back when dinosaurs were just starting to skulk, Earth had just one giant land mass, a supercontinent that scientists call Pangea. It broke up about 200 million years ago, and since then its fragments - riding on chunks of crust called tectonic plates - have been gliding, merging, and splitting their way into their present - temporary - positions. Now, geoscientists have unveiled a computer model that maps the details of that tectonic dance in 1-million-year increments - practically a frame-by-frame recap of geologic time. It shows that the plates speed up, slow down, and move around in unexpectedly short bursts of activity. It also suggests that researchers may have to rethink what drives much of that incessant motion.
The reconstruction is the work of scientists at the EarthByte program at the University of Sydney in Australia, one of the world’s foremost research groups for plate tectonics and geodynamics, who described it in a paper published online on 12 March in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Previous work had mapped out tectonic movement in 20-million-year increments, which were then used to analyze plate velocities. But a closer look using the latest plate reconstructions created by the EarthByte group revealed that a lot more can change in 20 million years than scientists had thought.
Read the full news article via Science Mag.
HS Kingdom seismic interpretation software awarded to the School of Geosciences
18 Mar 2015
The School of Geosciences and the Geocoastal Research Group has had their IHS Kingdom Education subscription renewed for another 3 years. Learn more about the software:https://www.ihs.com/products/kingdom-seismic-geological-interpretation-software.html
This is great news as the School has been using this powerful seismic interpretation software over the last 5 years for a range of research projects. The school now has 5 stand-alone licenses and 15 network licenses for School-related educational and research purposes. See Assoc. Professor Jody Webster if you are interested in using the software.
17 Mar 2015
Bill Pritchard and John Duncan on some of the challenges facing the food system in India, and why India is the canary in the coal mine for climate change and food.
Less than a year ago, the IPCC released its 5th Assessment Report. This report sought to address, head-on, the interactions between a changing climate and the world’s food systems. Meanwhile, the concept of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has emerged as the major strategy for assisting farmers to mitigate their emissions and adapt to a changing climate. However, recent evidence on the potential implications of the climate-food nexus suggests that local action via CSA will be insufficient. More ambitious strategies designed at national and international scales are needed.
Read the blog post on the Sydney Environment Institute blog.
16 Mar 2015
While the impacts and effects of Tropical Cyclone Pam on the Republic of Vanuatu are still being revealed, important lessons are beginning to emerge in relation to disasters in the Pacific region.
Six people have died in the Vanuatan capital Port Vila, but there are no casualty figures from outside the city yet.
At Category 5, Cyclone Pam was a very severe tropical cyclone with reported wind speeds of up to 300 kilometres an hour. However, it is not unique in that this region of the central South Pacific has experienced similar severe tropical cyclones in the past.
That said, given greatly increased development and infrastructure in low-lying Pacific islands, the effects of cyclones like Pam are much larger than they have been in the past. Basically, we now have more people, infrastructure and assets “exposed” on the ground in places where tropical cyclones make landfall.
Read the full article via The Conversation by Assoc Prof Dale Dominey-Howes.
16 Mar 2015
Dr Maria Seton and Dr Simon Williams from the School of Geosciences and colleagues from GNS Science and the Geological Survey of New Caledonia were awarded ship time on Australia's new, state-of-the-art research vessel, the RV Investigator. The supplementary voyage, with Dr Seton as Chief Scientist, will investigate the continuity of Australian terranes into Zealandia through the Lord Howe Rise via targeted dredging of the Fairway Ridge. The voyage will also present an opportunity to travel back to the phantom "Sandy Island" where rock samples will be recovered in order to determine the age and origin of the ridge underlying "Sandy Island".
Check out the Investigator @ CSIRO blog
Mar 4 2015
Thinking Space Program 2015: Geographers and the Environment at the University of Sydney schedule now available. These sessions explore current issues and debates in human geography and the social sciences through presentations about key thinkers, cross-cutting themes, skills, methodologies, and current postgraduate research. All welcome!
All sessions take place on Wednesdays from 4:00 - 5:00pm in the Madsen Conference Room (Rm 449). Presentations will normally take up 30-45 minutes, leaving plenty of time for comments and discussion. Most of the sessions will be recorded and distributed to those interested. All welcome.
Attend a session.
Feb 27 2015
Sarah-Jo Lobwein, a Sutherland Shire resident and University of Sydney Institure of Marine Sciencs coordinator has organised a land and sea clean-up at Silver Beach, Kurnell on the 25th anniversary of Clean Up Australia Day. Since its inception, volunteers have removed 288,650 tonnes of rubbish from 145,754 sites in Australia.
She said snorkellers, divers and "landlubbers" were invited to attend the clean-up, which she hoped would become an annual event. Well done Sarah-Jo!
Read the full article.
Jan 22 2015
The idea that coral reefs have formed over millennia in a continuous process has been challenged by a study of the southern Great Barrier Reef. The research, led by the University of Sydney, shows that even small variations in sea level can cause significant change across the reef.
"We create a new narrative for how the Barrier Reef and other coral reefs came about and explain the importance of surprisingly small changes in sea level," said Associate Professor Jody Webster from the University of Sydney's School of Geosciences and an author on a recently published article on the findings in Geology.
Read the full article.
Feb 3 2015
A group of 15 Sydney students is spending three weeks in Mumbai and Bangalore as part of the University's first mobility agreement with India.
They are studying at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai (TISS) and the Institute for Social and Economic Change in Bangalore on a field school program looking at the political economy of development and environmental management in India.
"The students are gaining an insight into the vast challenges faced by one of the most important nations in the 21st century," said Dr Elizabeth Hill from the Department of Political Economy, one of the study conveners who is accompanying the students.
Her fellow convener, Associate Professor Bill Pritchard from the School of Geosciences, added: "The program offers students the opportunity to develop cultural competency and familiarity with an important developing economy with which the University is building important partnerships."
Read the full article.