Geology & Geophysics Research Areas

Geology is an interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of the Earth, including its composition, structure, physical properties, origin and evolution of life, environments and resource exploration. At its most fundamental level, geology is the study of processes that have driven changes and cycles that the Earth has experienced since its formation. The discipline dates back to antiquity when early humans used their basic knowledge of rocks to select suitable material for making tools. Geology emerged as a separate science between 1775 and 1830 and has very quickly evolved into sophisticated discipline that includes sedimentology, petrology, structural geology, and economic geology.

The closely related science of geophysics involves the application of physical theories and measurements to explore Earth's internal structure at all scales. Geophysical methods such as seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical and electromagnetic are largely credited with the theory of plate tectonics and improved resource exploration. These methods are also widely used for the monitoring of geological hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

Key research areas

  • Marine Processes: research encompasses coastal studies, geology and geophysics of the ocean basins, and palaeoceanographic and palaeoclimatic modelling.
  • Early Earth Evolution: understanding the origin and evolution of early life on Earth, and the dynamics of provinces with multiphase thermal and deformational histories.
  • Environmental Geology and Geochemistry: research in this field concentrates on the Sydney region, principally examining marine and estuarine contamination, river-bank stability and sediment dynamics.
  • Mineral and Petroleum Resources: research includes all aspects of resource exploration, including coal, petroleum, and mineral resources based on petrographic, geochemical, computational and geophysical methods.
  • Geophysics: research in geophysics ranges from mining geophysics to exploration and global, planetary-scale geophysics.
  • Geocoastal Research: research encompasses river, coastal and estuarine morphodynamics and focuses on coupling between flow dynamics and morphological change involving sediment transport on a multiscale continuum from daily beach changes to Holocene and Quaternary coastal evolution.
  • E-Research: research in plate kinematics, global and regional geodynamics, frontier basin exploration, palaeo-climate modelling, formation of Australian opals, palaeostress modelling.
  • Seismology: research in current NSW earthquake events, evaluation of earthquake risk in NSW.