Geochemistry set for new heights with AuScope Grid

The breakthroughs in Earth Science and exploration that have historically created much of Australias wealth are underpinned by geochemists who painstakingly uncover the unique chemical signatures – just like fingerprints – that belong to every rock and hydrocarbon sample.

The work of geochemists relies on identifying minute chemical information to create a picture of how the Australian continent has changed through space and time. However the data collected by geochemists across Australia was not uniformly accessible to researchers on a national scale.

This issue was addressed through the AuScope Grid project as it built a national resource infrastructure. The case study on page 50 describes how the Grid was created by innovative approaches to managing data.

Professor Brent McInnes, Professor of Economic Geology & Geochemistry at the John De Laeter Centre for Isotope Research at Curtin University, said governments and universities had invested hundreds of millions dollars in making Australia a world leader in the field of geochemistry.

Australian scientists are the best in the world and we attract researchers from all over the world to work here. Universities have been generating great data, but only a portion of that could be accessed.

In the past, each university was running its own show. That was fine in the 1980s and 1990s, but with technology advancing and the opportunity now to record so much information, its time for us to start collecting data automatically.

The AuScope Grid is a fantastic achievement. The geochemistry community is now a position to take advantage of that platform and to act as a federation, with all the labs reporting on the same basis.

Professor McInnes said accessing geochemistry data through the Grid was similar to moves by the worlds best museums to place all their collections online.

The UKs Museum of Natural History is opening up collections that even the experts didnt know they had, and these are now accessible from anywhere in the world. Thats where we are headed with Australias rich geochemical data so we can better understand how our continent works.

Caption: The JdL Centre Laser Laboratory

Case study: Geochemistry, AuScope Grid

Category: ECE and Geochemistry