Geophysical Observatory
A Pathway For Emerging Geoscientists

 
Year 10 students from Canberra schools are using 3D goggles for smartphones to visually experience seismology fieldwork and landscapes during Girls into Earth and Marine Sciences (GEMS) event in 2018. Image: As. Prof Meghan Miller, ANU.

Year 10 students from Canberra schools are using 3D goggles for smartphones to visually experience seismology fieldwork and landscapes during Girls into Earth and Marine Sciences (GEMS) event in 2018. Image: As. Prof Meghan Miller, ANU.


How do you create fun geoscience learning experiences for Aussie kids and collect useful data for researchers at the same time?

Well, we place earthquake-measuring seismometers and location-finding GPS units in schools across the nation, and then record the data online so that all Australian students experience our dynamic earth in motion, and researchers can study it.


Australian Seismometers in Schools (AuSIS)

Our AuSIS team place earthquake-measuring seismometers and teaching resources in 47 Australian schools to raise awareness of geoscience through observing our dynamic earth in motion. All schools around the country have access to live earthquake recording from these locations, and researchers can access research-grade data, collected by these instruments, via AusPASS.

 

GPS in Schools (AuGPS)

Like AuSIS, AuGPS integrates scientific research and education by engaging students, teachers and the public in GPS observing. The project acknowledges that students of all ages, but especially during the high school years, learn best when some component of the learning process involves practical activity.

The project exposes students interested in GPS to how it works and its application within Earth and other sciences. Hand-held GPS units encourage students to take lessons outside and perform basic mapping exercises; such as mapping sand dune migration or coastal erosion within a geography course or, demonstrate the concept of measurement uncertainty and precision within mathematics/science course.

There are 16 AuGPS sites across Australia. The GPS data from all of the sites is accessible from Geoscience Australia as part of the National Positioning Infrastructure. This allows students to track their schools’ position as it moves with the tectonics of the Australian Plate (i.e. 7cm per year); effectively letting them see for themselves a geological process in action.

In additional to the physical infrastructure, a curriculum aligned educational pack was developed by the project team that provides material to teachers in relation to:

  • What GPS is and the physics and mathematics of how it works, and

  • Earth science applications of GPS including plate tectonic motion, earthquakes, deformation monitoring, engineering, sea level change and precision agriculture.

 

Achievements

Data collected from the seismometers in schools is used by a wide variety of people, including government agencies who monitor earthquakes and researchers who study the internal structure of the earth. Earthquake monitoring agencies that use AuSIS data:

Geoscience Australia, Seismological Research Centre and Geological Survey of South Australia.

Studies published with AuSIS data include:

  • Sippl et al., 2016, New constraints on the current stress field and seismic velocity structure of the eastern Yilgarn Craton from mechanisms of local earthquakes, Australian Journal of Earth Sciences.

    Kennett, Saygin, and Salmon, 2015, Stacking autocorrelograms to map Moho depth with high spatial resolution in southeastern Australia, Geophys. Res. Lett.

  • Yuan, 2015, Secular change in Archaean crust formation recorded in Western Australia, Nature Geoscience, 8, 808-813.

Distribution of AuSIS seismometers (left) and earthquakes across Australia from historical and instrumental catalogues (right). Image: © ANU, 2018 .

Distribution of AuSIS seismometers (left) and earthquakes across Australia from historical and instrumental catalogues (right). Image: ©ANU, 2018.

 

 
 

PROGRAM LEADER
Prof. Malcolm Sambridge
Australian National Uni

Program Support
Dr. Michelle Salmon &
As. Prof. Meghan Miller
Australian National Uni

DURATION
Since 2011

QUICK LINKS
AuSIS website, Facebook
and
Twitter pages