Earth Composition & Evolution (ECE)
Tools for geochemistry & geochronology


Mint your samples today with our free, online International Geo Sample Number (IGSN) service.

Dr. Korien Oostingh preparing to carry out laser ablation analysis on PhD samples. Image: ©Curtin University.

Dr. Korien Oostingh preparing to carry out laser ablation analysis on PhD samples. Image: ©Curtin University.

AuScope Earth Composition & Evolution (ECE) provides researchers with tools necessary to understand the age and geochemical evolution of the Australian continent. This knowledge can be applied to mineral exploration, global change, and natural hazard research.

A growing area of endeavour is the development of new sample and data management tools, such as IGSN minting, within the AuScope Virtual Research Environment (AVRE) project which is co-sponsored by ARDC.





AuScope has supported the purchase, upgrade and maintenance of integrated analytical and characterisation instruments at Curtin University, the University of Western Australia, the University of Melbourne and Macquarie University since 2006. Instruments include:

  • Specialist mass spectrometers in the John De Laeter Centre for Mass Spectrometry (JDLC) at Curtin University

  • A Cameca IMS 1280 Secondary Ion Microprobe in the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation & Analysis at the University of Western Australia

  • A suite of thermochronology Instruments in the Geohistory Laboratory at the University of Melbourne

  • TerraneChron® in the The ARC National Key Centre for Geochemical Evolution and Metallogeny of Continents (GEMOC), Macquarie University

Curtin University's John de Laeter Centre houses advanced instrumentation for high quality chemical, mineralogical and microstructural analysis, and high resolution imaging. This video shows the SHRIMP B, one of two high resolution ion micro probes located at the Centre. Have a look around. Learn more:

If you are interested in accessing an instrument or learning more about current and potential projects, please contact Prof. Brent McInnes.


What we’re working on

We are providing the Australian geoscience community with access to advanced geochronology, thermochronology and geochemistry tools described above, and are broadening our scope through the development of a national geoplatforms initiative that will create efficiencies around access to and operation of multiple geochemistry laboratories across Australia.

We are engaging with Australian geoscience surveys and the MinEx CRC to support collaborative arrangements for data production on a national scale.

We are developing eResearch tools to make samples and data discoverable and reusable under the FAIR Data Principles. This involves coordinating the establishment of trusted data repositories and the preservation of legacy collections.

Our latest development is the launch of the AuScope Geochemistry Network (AGN).



ECE facilities are accessed by over 800 researchers annually leading to the generation of hundreds of research publications (for examples see JdLC and GEMOC). Government agencies such as Geoscience Australia and the Geological Survey of Western Australia use AuScope-supported facilities to underpin their mission to map the geology and mineral resource potential of Australia.

Other achievements include:

  • development of a new sample ID minting service to preserve samples and data;

  • Support for new SHRIMP U-Pb geochronology data reduction software (SQUID3) being developed by Geoscience Australia and Charleston College;

  • Development and testing of prototype laboratory information systems (LIMS) for automated capture and delivery of geochemical data to the AuScope Discovery Portal;

  • successful demonstration of in-situ U-Th-Pb-He dating and Pt-He dating;

  • the oldest age yet obtained on samples from the planet Mars and the first evidence of the composition of the ancient Martian atmosphere;

  • the oldest age yet obtained on unique minerals returned from the Apollo Moon missions with implications for understanding the bombardment history of the early Earth;

  • the determination of the formation age and processes of the Itokawa asteroid based on samples recovered by a Japanese spacecraft;

  • the determination of new, precise ages of meteor impact structures and flood basalt events in Australia and their role in understanding global mass extinction events;

  • the development of a new diamond exploration tool for Australian conditions based on the helium content of zircon; and

  • geochronological determination of key mineralisation events in the Yilgarn Craton and the Albany-Fraser terranes in Western Australia.


The ECE program is developing a new multi-institutional project that will make geochemical research infrastructure and expertise available to the end user community under a national access and operating arrangement.

Participating institutions will collaborate in the development and delivery of eResearch tools, as well as professional development opportunities for laboratory staff.

The program will liaise with state and federal geoscience agencies to provide a coordinated approach to the production of geochemical datasets of national significance which will be publicly accessible via the AuScope Discovery Portal.