Teaching and training program



the teaching aims

GEMOC's teaching program aims to:

  • provide undergraduate and postgraduate students with a broad, integrative understanding of Earth architecture and processes, bridging the discipline boundaries of geology and geophysics
  • train undergraduate and postgraduate students in new conceptual approaches and the applications of advanced technology, including geochemical analysis techniques and the integrated field and laboratory use of geographic information systems (GIS)
  • develop international links in teaching programs (especially postgraduate) relevant to GEMOC's goals
  • develop formal tailored course work components at postgraduate level which also can be packaged for distance education delivery and as short courses available to the mining industry
  • enhance the pool of high quality geoscience graduates by restructuring academic programs to attract a new clientele

undergraduate training

this program has four short-term objectives:

  •  to reform the undergraduate curriculum
  • to strengthen Geophysics training
  • to introduce GIS-based philosophy and practice to both fieldwork and laboratory work
  • to introduce a general-interest course to attract different clientele

achievements 1996 - 1998

curriculum development

During the first three years of GEMOC we have largely realised our short-term objectives and made substantial progress toward the relevant teaching aims.  Flow sheets defining course structures are set out in Appendix 6. During 1998, publicity and outreach continued through the established channels of career markets, brochures and school visits, with the innovation of inviting year 11 students to attend a lecture and/or practical session in GEMOC.  The Geochemical Analysis Unit hosted these sessions in 1998.

The great outdoors: students participating in GEOS260, Lithospheric Environments.

  • The undergraduate curriculum has been reformed to attract a wider clientele, to reflect the changing interests of students, and to incorporate the new conceptual approaches and applications of advanced technology made available through GEMOC.
  • In Planet Earth (GEOS112) we have successfully introduced a 3-day voluntary field trip which combines geoscience research with an outdoor experience.  This popular field trip will be continued in 1999.
  • In Earth Dynamics, Materials and the Environment (GEOS115) the curriculum has changed to include a greater emphasis on map reading skills and the way in which people interact with the geologic environment.  Our newly refurbished teaching space allows small group tutorials and ready access to the internet.  An evening offering introduced in 1998 was very successful and will be continued in 1999.  Retention rates into second year following GEOS115 and the field unit GEOS224, have improved over the 3 year period.

Hands on experience: measuring dip and strike during GEOS224, Introduction to Field Geology.

  • Minerals, Energy and the Environment (GEOS251) was redesigned by Simon Jackson in 1998 and will be offered as an internal unit in 1999, the first time in 5 years, as well in the current distance education mode.  The unit now has its own web site.  GEOS251 continues to be popular with students enrolled in Economics and Law and is the second general interest unit to be introduced or redesigned in GEMOC.
  • Earth's Evolving Environment (GEOS272) has run successfully since its introduction in 1996 and has continued to attract a clientele from outside the geoscience pool.
  • Volcanic Geology Fieldwork (GEOS373), a popular unit which examines modern magmatic environments of the Pacific Rim as keys to interpreting the ancient, is now offered as a new independent unit.
  • In 1998 Simon Jackson started teaching in the units Aqueous Geochemistry (GEOS333) and Exploration and Environmental Geochemistry (GEOS377)
  • in a cooperative arrangement with the Department of Chemistry, and will be joined in this by John Ridley in 1999.
  • Links with Geophysics have been strengthened with the merging of the Geology and Geophysics areas, the arrival of Paul Morgan and the introduction of Global Earth Processes (GEOS436).  This unit aims to integrate geophysical and petrological data to give realistic geological, thermal and seismic tomography images of the Earth.
  • Our new named degrees, the Bachelor of Science in Geophysics, and the Bachelor of Technology in Exploration Geoscience (designed in close consultation with industry), continue to attract outstanding students with higher than average entry requirements.  A new named degree, the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geology, is planned for introduction in 2000.
  • The Honours and Postgraduate unit Geochemical Applications and Techniques (GEOS437) continues to be popular and also serves as a SUCOGG Honours unit.
  • More information is given below in the section on "Integration of Geophysics".

Retention Rates

outcomes at Macquarie:

Increased visibility and teaching quality may be reflected in;

  • Increased retention rates in core units (see graph).  300-level geophysics (118%) attracts students from other departments
  • Increasing 100-level numbers in core unit (30% in 1998, 40% in 1999)

Geographic information systems in teaching

The last three years have seen a large step forward in the introduction of GIS into undergraduate teaching.
at Macquarie:

  • In 1997 and 1998, laptop computers (through a grant of over $125,000 from Macquarie) and MapInfo software were purchased.  Several teaching laboratories have been refurbished to facilitate use of the laptops and networked to allow teaching via the html environment.
  • The laptops and GIS software have been used successfully in Introduction to Field Geology (GEOS224) during which the students use GPS data collected in the field to undertake a simple data entry and manipulation exercise.  We are currently staging the introduction of GIS into GEOS115 via a mineral deposits exercise and Geological Structures (GEOS255) via the field excursion.
  • The use of GIS databases and imaging is being phased in all units as an integral part of the teaching methodology to be consistent with industry practice.
  • Micro-GIS (see Technology Development) is incorporated into the Geochemistry strand of Bachelor of Technology at third year and in relevant Honours courses and projects. ($33,000 for 1998 has been funded by Macquarie University to provide a microscope with digitised image capture to assist this purpose)
  • Other teaching equipment funding for microscope replacements, powerbook portable computers, digital imaging systems and geophysical equipment were funded in 1998 (over $170,000) or awarded for expenditure in 1999 (approximately $230,000)

at ANU:

  • The third year geological information systems unit GEOL3009 was further refined and increased student numbers make it the best attended of all 3rd year units in the Geology Department at ANU. Teaching continues to be centred on the science of remote sensing and image processing and the tools of GIS and database systems. Laboratory practical sessions involving acquisition of practical skills are the major component of the unit. A combination of conventional (lectures, hand-outs, assignments) and world wide web delivery modes is used to allow an auto-instructional self-paced programmed learning approach in the teaching of GIS and image processing. This combination of directed learning and "do-it-yourself" exercises, creates student enthusiasm and a high level of engagement and interest.

GEMOC honours

GEMOC offers scholarships for students with excellent undergraduate records who are carrying out GEMOC-related projects.

Venessa Bennett, a GEMOC Honours Scholarship holder in 1997 was awarded the Macquarie University Medal for Honours in 1998 (for 1997). 

Venessa's outstanding Honours project was:

A re-evaluation of the Great Serpentinite Belt and surrounding rocks and the tectonic significance to the Peel Fault

Venessa now has a PhD Scholarship at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada after a field season in Antarctica.

The following projects were completed in 1998 with GEMOC Honours Scholarships or assistance.  Five candidates at Macquarie University were awarded first class Honours.


Michael Burke:  Integration of xenolith and seismic data to define the nature of the Moho discontinuity under the Lachlan Fold Belt and Sydney Basin

Matthew Greentree:  The Mostyn Vale Formation, Keepit Dam: the flank of an ocean island andesitic volcano

Michael Seargent:  Lithospheric structure and composition beneath the Agulhas Plateau (SW Indian Ocean) based on seismic and gravity data

Andrew Stewart:  Stratigraphy, structure and vent location of the Emmaville Volcanics east of Deepwater.

Sarah Webster:  The Forest Reefs Volcanic Centre


Damian Dempsey:  Mineralogy and petrology of the Cargo Intrusive Region, NSW.

Dennis Hackney:  The effects of Cr on partial melting in the CMAS System.

Prachi Jain:  The origin of gahnite at Broken Hill, NSW.

Margaret Spandler:  The geology of the Mineral Hill Field, Central NSW: Igneous evolution and Cu/Au mineralisation.

The following Honours projects are relevant to GEMOC in 1999


James Austin:  The structure of the Merimbula Group (part-time continues from 1998)

Andrew Botfield:  Cu and Zn isotope fractionation in hydrothermal systems

John Bus:  High-resolution seismics

Michael Cook:  Arsenic geochemistry in igneous rocks of the New England Fold Belt

Tara Deen:  Seismic refraction surface tomography

Troy Herbert:  Gravity and magnetic modelling of Redeemer deposit, WA

Timothy Moulds:  Geology, geochemistry and tectonic setting of the Frampton Volcanics, southeastern NSW
David Tabrett:  Geological evolution of Lord Howe Island

Antony Sprigg:  The nature and timing of mafic-felsic dykes, Bermagui southeastern NSW

Andrea Daniels:  The petrology and geochemistry of scoria cones and lavas in SE Queensland (commencing mid-1999)


Robert Lacey:  Integrating the geology and geophysics of the Yeoval batholith, NSW.

Ley Kingdom:  Aspects of nickel mineralisation in Western Australia.

Cameron Mitchell:  The Challenger Gold Mine, Adelong, New South Wales.

Cameron O'Neill:  The Luxmore mafic igneous complex, New Zealand.

Georgina Burch:  The geology and mineralisation at Mount Mackenzie, Queensland

GEMOC postgraduate

GEMOC postgraduate students had a high profile at national and international conferences through 1998 including the International Kimberlite Conference in Cape Town, the Goldschmidt Conference in Toulouse and the Australian Geological Congress in Townsville (see Abstract Titles in Appendix 4 ).  As part of GEMOC's international exchange program with the University of Jean-Monnet, St Etienne, Will Powell from Macquarie was granted a place in the 1999 Fieldwork Program in the Kerguelen Islands, and Bertrand Moine spends 2-3 months per year at GEMOC.  Ulrike Troitzch was awarded the prize for best student oral presentation at the San Francisco AGU, December 1998.



Rondi Davies (PhD):  East Australian Diamonds: Characterisation and origin;  Sponsored by Rio Tinto, Kennecott Canada  (completed 1998)

Joanne McCarron (MSc):  Mantle xenoliths from Queensland and South Australia (completed 1997)


Olivier Alard (PhD):  Trace element geochemistry and mantle domains, emphasis on PGE and Re/Os;  OPRA with MUIPRA stipend (commenced 1997)

Elena Belousova (PhD):  Zircon and apatite geochemistry: applications to petrology and mineral exploration;   APA and sponsorship by Rio Tinto (commenced 1996)

Eloise Beyer (PhD):  Contrasting characteristics of Proterozoic and Phanerozoic mantle types,  Field assistance from Ashton Mining (commenced 1997)

Oliver Gaul (PhD):  Composition of the lithospheric mantle beneath Australia;   APAI collaborative with Stockdale Prospecting, CSIRO EM (commenced 1995)

Jyrki Pienmunne (PhD):  A geochemical and isotopic study of Co-Ag-Ni-As mineralisation, Cobalt, Ontario (part-time commenced 1998)

Mark Pirlo (PhD): Australian groundwater geochemistry; applications to heat flow and exploration;   APA, (commenced 1998)

Will Powell (PhD):  Nature of the lithospheric mantle in the New England Region, NSW;   APA (commenced 1997)

Xu Xisheng (PhD):  The lithospheric mantle beneath eastern China; Formal exchange PhD, Nanjing and Macquarie (commenced 1996)

Shixin Yao (PhD):  Chromite as a petrogenetic indicator in ultramafic rocks;  Collaborative with Rio Tinto (commenced 1996)

Some of the Macquarie and ANU postgraduate students at the December GEMOC meeting. Back row, left to right: Will Powell, Oliver Gaul, Esmé van Achterbergh, Elena Belousova, Mark Pirlo and Olivier Alard.  Front row, left to right: Eloise Beyer, Tony Kemp, Helen Degeling, and Shixin Yao.

current international exchange students (Macquarie)

Xu Xisheng (PhD):  The lithospheric mantle beneath eastern China;  Formal exchange PhD, Nanjing and Macquarie (commenced 1996)

Bertrand Moine (PhD): The role of fluids in the genesis, segregation and crystallisation of intraplate oceanic mantle magmas: implications for crustal accretion; Co-tutelle agreement with the University of St Etiene, commencing 1999

Esmé van Achterbergh (PhD): Trace element fingerprints of metasomatic processes in lithospheric mantle  (part-time)

Kari Anderson (PhD):  Defining the APWP for early to mid Palaeozoic eastern Gondwanaland: palaeomagnetic pole information from the northern Tasman Orogen;  MUPRA and MUIPRA

James O'Connor MSc:  Geophysical model for the SE Atlantic region; collaborative with Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany.



C.J. Bryant (PhD):  Geochemistry of volcanic ashes from the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc systems, and a geochemical traverse of the Kurile-Hokkaido arc. (commenced 1995)

Helen Degeling (PhD):  A study of Zr/Th/U equilibria and the growth of zircon. (commenced 1998)

Tony Kemp (PhD):  In situ partial melting and petrogenesis of igneous rocks of the Glenelg River Complex, western Victoria: a field, isotopic and geochemical investigation (commenced 1996)

Cromwell Qopoto (PhD):  Base and noble metals trapped in phenocryst-hosted glass inclusions of the various lava suites of Bougainville. (commenced 1998)

Andy Tompkin (PhD):  Gold mineralisation in the Gawler Craton, South Australia. (commenced 1998)

Ulrike Troitzch (PhD):  Experimental investigation of titanite solid solution Ca(Ti,Al)(O,F)SiO4 in the assemblage titanite-anorthite-fluorite (commenced 1996)

X. Teng (MSc):   Petrology of the trans-Tanakura Tectonic Line (a lithosphere-penetrating fault in Honshu) island arc transect (ongoing from 1996)

Liankun Sha (PhD):  Accessory minerals (especially phosphates) in granites of the Lachlan Fold Belt;  theoretical modelling of ordering-disordering in silicate minerals (ongoing from 1995)

GEMOC PhD students with their posters at the 14th Australian Geological convention, Townsville.  From left to right: Eloise Beyer, Oliver Gaul, Rondi Davies,
Olivier Alard and Will Powell.
GEMOC posters at the 7th International Kimberlite Conference, Cape Town with (left to right) Esme van Achterbergh, Rondi Davies and Elena Belousova. 


Annual Report 1998