Industry interaction




GEMOC relies on a vigorous interaction with the mineral exploration industry at both the research and the teaching/training levels. The research results of the Centre's work are transferred to the industry and to the scientific community in several ways:

collaborative industry-supported Honours, MSc and PhD projects

short courses relevant to the industry and government sector users, designed to communicate and transfer new technologies, techniques and knowledge in the discipline areas covered by the Key Centre

  one-on-one research collaborations and shorter-term collaborative research on industry problems involving national and international partners

  provision of high quality geochemical analyses with value-added interpretations in collaboration with industry and government organisations, extending our industry interface

  use of AccessMQ consultancies and collaborative industry projects, which employ and disseminate the technological developments carried out by the Centre

  GLITTER, an on-line data-reduction program for Laser Ablation ICPMS analysis, developed by GEMOC and CSIRO GEMOC participants, has been successfully commercialised and is available from GEMOC through AccessMQ (; the software is continuously upgraded

  collaborative relationships with technology manufacturers (more detail in the section on Technology Development). GEMOC (Macquarie) is the Australian demonstration site for Agilent Technologies LAM-ICPMS applications



GEMOC industry support includes:

  direct funding of research programs

  "in kind" funding including field support (Australia and overseas), access to proprietary databases, sample collections, digital datasets and support for GIS platforms

  logistic support for fieldwork for postgraduate projects

  collaborative research programs through ARC Linkage Projects and the Macquarie University External Collaborative Grants (MUECRG) and PhD program support

  assistance in the implementation of GIS technology in postgraduate programs

  participation of industry colleagues as guest lecturers in undergraduate units

  extended visits to Macquarie by industry personnel for interaction and research

  ongoing informal provision of advice and formal input as members of the Advisory Board



10 major Industry Reports were completed for collaborative industry projects.

TerraneChron® studies (see Research Highlights) have enjoyed continued uptake by a significant segment of the global mineral exploration industry. This methodology, currently unique to GEMOC, requires the integration of data from three instruments (electron microprobe, LAM-ICPMS and LAM-MC-ICPMS) and delivers fast, cost-effective information on the tectonic history (with ages) of regional terranes (

During 2010, GEMOC increased its collaboration with Barrick Gold of Australia, applying the TerraneChron® method to their copper-gold exploration programs in Papua New Guinea and South America.

The ARC Linkage Project titled "Global Lithosphere Architecture Mapping" (GLAM) continued with full industry partner support following the takeover of WMC Resources by BHP Billiton.

A successful bid for an ARC Linkage grant in 2008 ensured the continuation of the project despite key players leaving BHP Billiton. A sub-licencing agreement was executed with Minerals Targeting International to accommodate Dr Graham Begg's new role (in relationship to Macquarie, BHP Billiton and the GLAM project) as Director of this company. Planning and workshop sessions at Macquarie with participants from BHP Billiton and GEMOC were key activities in 2010. Dr Begg spent significant research time at GEMOC through 2010 as part of the close collaborative working pattern for this project.

GEMOC's development of a methodology for analysis of trace elements in diamond has opened up potential further developments and applications relevant to industry, ranging from diamond fingerprinting for a range of purposes to improving the knowledge framework for diamond exploration. This work is continuing, with a focus on understanding the growth and chemical history of individual diamonds and diamond populations; it was supported in 2010 by an ARC Discovery Project, on which Dr Dan Howell is employed as a Research Associate.

In 2007-2008 GEMOC developed a technique for dating the intrusion of kimberlites and lamproites using LAM-ICPMS U-Pb analysis of groundmass perovskite (see GEMOC Publication #505). This rapid, low-cost application has proven very attractive to the diamond exploration industry, and has led to several small collaborative projects; it also is being applied in an ARC Linkage project sponsored by De Beers.

A new initiative in 2009, continued in 2010, was the application of U-series isotopes to groundwater studies for both exploration and investigation of palaeoclimate. Collaboration with Heathgate Resources at the Beverley Uranium mine in South Australia is investigating these processes using a well-constrained aquifer system in both a mining and exploration context (Melissa Murphy's PhD project).

Modelling capabilities have now been extended to industry related projects. An ongoing collaboration with Granite Power Ltd continues, which has led to important data exchange and ongoing consulting projects through Access MQ. A successful Honours project was carried out in collaboration with Chevron Australia Ltd., developing gravity and thermal models for the Northwest Shelf. An ongoing collaboration between GEMOC, Granite Power Hydrolex Ltd. has led to several upcoming or submitted publications on the thermal structure of the Sydney Basin.

Studies on the controls of fractionation and concentration of platinum-group elements (PGE) in ultramafic magmas continued in 2010 as part of the PhD project of Marek Locmelis, funded by AMIRA Project P710a; Marek submitted his thesis in 2010, and is continuing with the research as a Research Associate. The research goal is to develop reliable geochemical indicators that can guide the exploration for magmatic nickel-sulfide deposits with a particular focus on the role of chromite and olivine in the concentration and fractionation of PGE in komatiites. Industry partners are BHP Billiton, Independence Group NL, Norilsk Nickel, MERIWA and ARC. The project is in collaboration with the Centre for Exploration Targeting / University of Western Australia, CSIRO Exploration and Mining and the Australian National University.

A continuing collaborative research relationship with New South Wales Geological Survey is applying TerraneChron® to investigations of the provenance of targeted sequences in Paleozoic sedimentary terranes of eastern Australia, and the development of the Macquarie Arc.

A collaborative research project continued in 2010 with the Geological Survey of Western Australia, in which GEMOC is carrying out in situ Hf-isotope analyses of previously SHRIMP-dated zircon grains from across the state. This is a part of the WA government's Exploration Incentive Scheme.

Industry visitors spent varying periods at GEMOC in 2010 to discuss our research and technology development (see visitor list, Appendix 3). This face-to-face interaction has proved highly effective both for GEMOC researchers and industry colleagues.
DIATREEM continued to provide LAM-ICPMS analyses of garnets and chromites to the diamond-exploration industry on a collaborative basis.

GEMOC publications, preprints and non-proprietary reports are available on request for industry libraries.
GEMOC was prominent in delivering keynote and invited talks and workshop modules at national and international industry peak conferences in 2010. See Appendix 4 for abstract titles and Appendix 2 for GEMOC Publications.

The annual review meeting for the Global Lithospheric Architecture Mapping (GLAM) project gathered geologists, geophysicists, geochemists and industry representatives.




These are brief descriptions of current gemoc projects that have direct cash support from industry, with either formal ARC or Macquarie University Grant status and timeframes of at least one year. Projects are both national and global. In addition to these formal projects, many shorter projects are directly funded by industry alone, and the results of these feed into our basic research database (with varied confidentiality considerations). Such projects are administered by Access MQ Limited, Macquarie's commercial entity.

GEMOC's industry collaborative projects are designed to develop the strategic and applied aspects of the basic research programs based on understanding the architecture of the lithosphere and the nature of Earth's geodynamic processes that have controlled the evolution of the lithosphere and its important discontinuities. Most of the industry collaborative projects rely on geochemical information from the Geochemical Analysis Unit in GEMOC and especially on novel methodologies developed by (and some unique to) GEMOC.

Geochemical data on crustal and mantle rocks are being integrated with tectonic analyses and large-scale datasets (including geophysical data) to understand the relationship between lithosphere domains and large-scale mineralisation.

The use of mantle sulfides to date mantle events, and the characterisation of crustal terrane development using U-Pb dating and Hf isotopic compositions of zircons provide more information for integration with geophysical modelling. TerraneChron® (see Research Highlights) is an important tool for characterising the tectonic history and crustal evolution of terranes on the scale of 10 – 100 km and delivers a cost-effective exploration tool to the mineral (and potentially petroleum) exploration industry.

The recent breakthrough in developing a robust methodology to analyse the trace elements in diamonds quantitatively is another world-first for GEMOC. In addition to providing unique knowledge about the nature and compositions of deep mantle fluids that has led to a new hypothesis for how diamonds form in the Earth’s mantle (see Research highlights 2007), it has potential practical applications to diamond fingerprinting for forensic applications and to better prediction of targets for diamond exploration.


Formal projects:

Lithospheric Architecture Mapping in Phanerozoic Orogens

Supported by MQ Enterprise Partnership Scheme Pilot Research Grant (MQPSPRG)

Industry Collaborator: Minerals Targeting International

Summary: The GEMOC Key Centre has developed the conceptual and technological tools required to map the architecture and evolution of the upper lithosphere (0-250 km depth) of cratons (the ancient nuclei of continents). Through two industry-funded programmes we have mapped most of the world's cratons, making up ca 70 % of Earth's surface. The remaining 30% consists of younger mobile belts, which hold many major ore deposits, but are much more complex and difficult to map. This pilot project is developing the additional tools required to map the mobile belts.


A novel approach for economic uranium deposit exploration and environmental studies

Supported by ARC Linkage

Industry Collaborator: Heathgate Resources

Summary: The project proposes the use of a novel approach to prospect for economic uranium ore deposits. The measurement of radioactive decay products of uranium in waters (streams and aquifers) and sediments will allow us to (i) identify and locate economic uranium ore deposits and (ii) quantify the rate of release of uranium and decay products during weathering and hence the evolution of the landscape over time. In addition, this project will improve our knowledge of the mobility of radioactive elements during rock-water interaction, which can be used to assess the safety of radioactive waste disposal. Outcomes of this project will be: (i) the discovery of new economic uranium deposits; (ii) development of a new exploration technology allowing for improved ore deposit targeting. Information gained on the behaviour of radioactive elements at the Earth's surface will be critical for the study of safety issues related to radioactive waste storage and obtaining reliable time constraints on the evolution of the Australian landscape.


Composition, structure and evolution of the lithospheric mantle beneath southern Africa: improving area selection criteria for diamond explorationDiamond

Supported by ARC Linkage

Industry Collaborator: De Beers

Summary: Trace-element analyses of garnet and chromite grains from kimberlites distributed across the Kaapvaal craton and the adjacent mobile belts will be used to construct 2D and 3D models of compositional and thermal variation in the lithospheric mantle (to ~250km depth), in several time slices. Regional and high-resolution geophysical datasets (e.g. seismic, magnetotelluric, gravity) will be used to test and refine this model. Links between changes in the compositional structure of the lithospheric mantle and far-field tectonic events will be investigated using 4-D plate reconstructions. The results will identify factors that localise the timing and distribution of diamondiferous kimberlites, leading to new exploration targeting strategies.


Basin development in Proterozoic South Australia: developing a time-integrated, compositional framework to assist mineral exploration

Supported by a matching Macquarie University External Collaborative grant
Industry Collaborator: PIRSA (Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia)

This project will generate significant new geochemical and age information to improve the existing geochronological framework for geologically ancient regions of South Australia. These chemical “fingerprints” and age data will be obtained for the mineral zircon (collected from river sands and rocks), that acts as a time capsule allowing us to determine the nature and sources of individual magmatic rocks and also sedimentary sequences. This will provide an integrated understanding of the geological history of the region to aid mineral exploration, and will also add to knowledge of the composition, metallogeny and assembly of this region of the Australian continent.


Global Lithosphere Architecture Mapping II

Summary: Supported by ARC Linkage
Industry Collaborator: BHP Billiton

Summary: Domains of different composition in the deep part of Earth’s rigid outer shell (the lithosphere) reflect processes of continent formation and breakup through Earth’s history. These boundaries focus the fluid flows from the deeper convecting mantle that may produce giant ore deposits. We will integrate mantle petrology, tectonic syntheses, and geophysics to image the 3-D architecture of the continental lithosphere, and provide a basis for realistic dynamic modelling of the behaviour of these deep continental roots and their response to geodynamic forces through time. This will provide a new approach to identifying predictive relationships between different types of lithosphere domains and structures, and large-scale mineralisation. The continents have been broken up and re-assembled along major zones of weakness many times through Earth’s history. Boundaries between such continental domains focus large-scale movements of fluids that can produce giant ore deposits. This study will provide new perspectives on the localisation of world-class economic deposits, the Earth resources on which society depends.


Mechanisms of PGE fractionation and concentration in mafic and ultramafic melts

Supported by AMIRA and MERIWA and an international postgraduate scholarship from Macquarie University
Industry Collaborators: BHP Billiton, Independence, LionOre
In collaboration with Dr Marco Fiorentini from UWA with shared PhD student Marek Locmelis

Summary: A long-standing goal of research on nickel-sulfide (NiS) deposits has been the development of reliable lithogeochemical indicators that can act as guides for exploration. In order to better constrain how platinum-group element (PGE) signatures may be utilised as pathfinders for those NiS deposits, this project focuses on the processes that control the fractionation and concentration of PGE in mafic and ultramafic magma types. The study looks into a range of variables controlling the PGE geochemistry, including the role of sulfides (i.e. pentlandite, millerite), oxides (i.e. chromite), silicate phases (i.e. olivine, pyroxene) and platinum-group minerals (i.e. alloys, antimonides, arsenides, tellurides) in the concentration and fractionation of PGE in mineralised and barren sequences. Furthermore, the study investigates the spatial relationship between the PGE signature of mafic and ultramafic rocks and the occurrence of various types of NiS mineralisation, thus optimising the use of the PGEs as vectors towards mineralised environments. See 2007 Research highlights.

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