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2004 News Archive


November 2004

Dr Robert Hough - Winner of the WA Premier's Prize for Early Career Achievement in Science 2004.

LEME staff member Rob Hough (on the left, with Dr Geoff Gallop) is a PhD research fellow with CSIRO Exploration and Mining. His PhD and initial Post Doc studies were conducted on meteorite impact craters, both at the Open University in UK and as a Royal Society fellow at the WA Museum. This research centred on the identification and formation of diamonds by the impact cratering process. He found that carbon, present in the target rocks is heated and squeezed under extreme conditions by the impacting projectile, forming diamonds. He was the first to discover that very fine diamonds could form in a natural chemcial process under these conditions, which is very similar to laboratory chemical vapour deposition, as used to form synthetic diamond.

In WA Rob has applied his knowledge of impact craters and their unique mineralogies to study the impact origin of the newly discovered Woodleigh impact structure. Rob and Dr Alex Bevan at the WA Museum identified small black glass beads found in exploration drift samples as being the first Cosmic Spherules from Australia; small fragments of rock from space that melted, then cooled rapidly as they passed through the Earth's atmosphere.

Now with LEME/CSIRO at the Australian Resources Research Centre, Rob is applying his initiative and expertise to problems in gold exploration, in collaboration with Curtin University and ANU.

(Extracts from winners.html)

Press release:

Regolith Research Underpins Discovery of Zircon-rich HMS in the Eucla Basin [PDF, 17kb]

Congratulations to Charles Butt (LEME Key Researcher)

On his election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Well Done to Tim Munday (LEME-CSIRO Exploration and Mining) and Colleagues

On their paper entitled "Combining geology and geophysics to develop a hydrogeologic framework for salt interception in the Loxton Sands aquifer, central Murray Basin, Australia" by T.J. Munday et al. This paper was a co-recipient of an award for the best technical presentation at the 1st National Salinity Engineering Conference held in Perth early November 2004.


"Great Youth Hunt"

AMY LOCKHEED won a CRC LEME Summer Research Scholarship in 2002 and went on to do her Honours as a LEME Scholar in 2003. Her thesis title “Finding blind orebodies: geochemical exploration for large nickel-copper PGE sulphides on the Western Gawler Craton” clearly caught the attention of a local mining company and at the conclusion of her Honours year, Amy was employed by Minotaur Resources, as an exploration geologist.
Amy’s story appeared in The Sunday Mail on 31 October 2004 in an article headed “Great Youth Hunt” which explored the areas of greatest employment potential – and with the resurgence in the mining sector, it seems geologists are going to be highly sought after. Although required to work in harsh and remote locations, and often in extreme weather conditions, Amy said “ the diversity of her career and wages made up for the difficult workplace environment”.

October 2004

Congratulations to Dr Nick Direen, CRC LEME / University of Adelaide, for his following achievements:

  • He was recently awarded an Early Career Symposium Fellowship to attend the Annual Symposium of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. It will be in Adelaide in November.
  • On 15th September he was elected as a Fellow of the Geological Society of London - the world's oldest geological society.
  • A growing list of achievements this year, particularly after the Stillwell Medal for the best paper in the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences. We expect nothing short of Gold at Beijing in 2008.

From Graham Heinson

September 2004

Butt-Smith Medal awarded

Professor Neil Phillips, Chief of CSIRO Exploration and Mining, was pleased to present the Butt Smith Medal to Dr Richard Mazzucchelli, a well known scientist in the Western Australian exploration community who spent nearly a quarter of a century with Western Mining as Geochemist and Exploration Manager developing and applying a series of new exploration methods for a wide variety of target metals.

Professor Phillips said "The medal honours Dr Charles Butt and Dr Ray Smith and recognises their substantial contributions to industry exploration methods. Two essentail ingredients in their successes that stand out clearly in my mind are that both are excellent scientists, and both have managed to communicate their findings very effectively to industry. Instead of the regolith being a barrier or being portrayed as extremely complex (which in many ways it is), Charles and Ray have succeeded in making a complex topic simple, and in so doing have ensure a high degree of industry uptake of their ideas." The medal was presented in front of 325 geoscientists at the Society of Economic Geologist's Awards Dinner in Fremantle.

Dr Mazzucchelli is a member of the CRC LEME Minerals Advisory Council.

Pacrim 2004

Dennis Gee delivered the keynote address at the recent AusIMM conference "Pacrim 2004: Hi Tech and World Competitive - Mineral Success Stories Around the Pacific Rim".

His paper, "Advances in Regolith Research — A CRC LEME Perspective" can be downloaded (PDF, 4.8MB).

June 2004

Frank Reith reveals how microorganisms play a fundamental role in the transport of gold in the soil and the accumulation of gold nuggets, in an article on "Microbial Gold Prospectors" published in the July 2004 issue of the University of Southern Queensland journal, Australasian Science.

April 2004

New Leader for Program 5 - Education and Training

Dr Steven Hill (Dept Geology and Geophysics, Adelaide University) has accepted the position of Program 5 Leader, effective Friday 23 April. Steve has BSc Hons 1st Class from the University of Melbourne and PhD from the ANU, both in the field of regolith geology and, in a short career, has published extensively in that area. He has pioneered the production of regolith-landform maps. He has been Deputy E&T Program Leader and has supervised many Honours and PhD students - most of them under the LEME Scholarship program. Steve has been closely associated with the Centre for a number of years, first at the University of Canberra with LEME 1 and 2 and now with Adelaide University

Steve takes over from Assoc Prof Pat James who leaves UA and LEME to take up the position of Foundation Head and Professor of the new School of Natural and Built Environments at the University of South Australia. We thank Pat very much indeed for laying the sound foundations for our LEME E&T Program. Best wishes for the future Pat.


Dr Ray SmithDr Ray Smith retired from CSIRO on 27 February 2004, but he will be maintaining a link with Exploration and Mining in an honorary capacity. CSIRO Chief, Dr Geoff Garrett, has approved the establishment of an Emeritus Research Fellowship to recognise Ray's outstanding contribution to CSIRO, science and the Australian industry.

In July 2003, Ray was awarded a Centenary Medal by the Governor General and Prime Minister with the citation "For services to Australian society in Geology". In accepting the award, Ray "acknowledged the many colleagues and students in geology across Australia with whom he had had the pleasure to work, both through CRC LEME and CSIRO".

Ray was the Director of the LEME 1 (Landscape Evolution and Mineral Exploration) for six years and continued as CEO of LEME 2 until July 2002. We are very fortunate indeed to have had Ray in these two key positions, from the inception of both Centres, and well into the establishment stage of LEME 2. A quote from Dr Ross Fardon (former LEME Board Chair) aptly describes Ray's standing: "Simply, Ray was one of the key founders of modern regolith studies in Australia, and therefore one of the leaders in the world. We in the science and industry hold him in the highest respect."

Ray can be contacted via his CSIRO Office in Perth on email:

March 2004

LEME PhD Scholar Aija Mee received the prize for the Best Student Poster at the Joint National Meeting of the Australian Organic Geochemistry Conference and International Humic Substances Society, which was held in Leura in the Blue Mountains NSW in February 2004, The poster was entitled "Lacustrine organic matter as a proxy for mid-latitude Holocene environmental change in southeastern Australia - a work in progress". This project is part of CRC LEME and is being undertaken jointly with Evelyn Krull at CSIRO Land and Water.

February 2004

  • Ms Lisa Worrall (Geoscience Australia) has accepted leadership of Program 1: Regolith geoscience.
  • Dr Ravi Anand (CSIRO Exploration and Mining) has agreed to transfer to leadership of Program 2: Mineral Exploration in areas of cover.
  • Dr Steve Rogers (CSIRO Land and Water) has been appointed as Leader of the CRC LEME Program 3: Environmental applications of regolith geoscience.

January 2004

LEME PhD Student Frank Reith's article "Relevance of Microorganisms for the Formation of and the Exploration for Gold Deposits in the Australian Regolith" (PDF, 78kb) has been published in the AUSIMM Bulletin (Nov/Dec 2003, pp. 60-62). The article is reproduced here with the kind permission of the AUSIMM.



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