Launching the AuScope Geochemistry Network
Earlier in 2019 the AuScope Board approved the formation of the AuScope Geochemistry Network (AGN) as a new project within the AuScope Earth Composition and Evolution (ECE) Program. This project, led by Prof Brent McInnes and coordinated by Dr Alexander Prent out of Curtin University, aims to create, coordinate, promote and develop national geochemistry research infrastructure and maximise its use by the Australian research community.
Meeting a national need
Over the last two years, AuScope held a number of workshops to canvas the research infrastructure needs of the geoscience community. AuScope CEO Dr Tim Rawling says:
“In response to a commitment from the Commonwealth towards ongoing funding for the NCRIS program, AuScope is in the process of developing a new, community driven science and investment strategy to guide our new research infrastructure investments over the coming decade.”
AuScope ECE Program Leader and AGN Project Leader Prof Brent McInnes adds:
“When it comes to geochemistry, there has been a strong and consistent message that the community wants affordable access to cutting-edge analytical techniques and greater cooperation in capability development and data sharing. The AGN will be a vehicle to collectively achieve this vision and prioritise future research infrastructure requirements for consumers of geochemical data.”
AGN project aims
The central aim of the AGN is to develop Australia's first geochemistry laboratory network that will underpin future geochemistry and geochronology maps of Australia (inset example below). The focus of the AGN will be to create a community that provides a wide range of geochemistry analytical tools at affordable rates and supports FAIR data delivery.
AGN will develop a platform for laboratories and scientists to publish multiple isotopic data sets through the AuScope Discovery Portal. This linked laboratory-to-repository capability will support the strategic objective of producing isotopic maps of Australia as set out in both the UNCOVER Roadmap (2017) and Decadal Plan For Australian Geoscience (2018).
Another goal of the AGN project is to provide a detailed capability overview of analytical tools and their applications present in the network. The aim of this is to provide an online technique finder to allow academics, government and industry, to get to the right laboratory and people for their analyses.
After development and testing of the data repository and capability overview between the current nodes of the AGN, Macquarie University, University of Melbourne and Curtin University, AGN looks to expand its network to include other research institutions between 2020 and 2021.
The Australian geoscience community will benefit by being able to access geochemical data produced by the network and will also be able to find the right tools to answer geochemical questions. The assembly of an “isotopic atlas” and derivative maps will be useful in quantitatively understanding Earth system processes that have shaped the formation and evolution of the Australian continent and its natural resource endowment.
Building the AGN
AuScope is pleased to announce the recent appointment of geochemist, Dr Alexander Prent in the role
of AGN Project Coordinator. Within the AGN, Alex will be responsible for developing an inventory of research infrastructure and capabilities available to the research community from data provided from participating labs.
Alex will be based at the AGN Project Office at Curtin University’s John de Laeter Centre, together with a Data Science Coordinator who is yet to be appointed — please contact Prof Brent McInnes if you are interested in learning more about this role.
Be a part of the AGN journey
In the coming year, Brent and Alex will seek ideas and feedback from the national geochemistry community as the AGN develops. The first opportunity for collaboration will be in an AGN workshop at the TANG3O meeting at the University of Tasmania in November, 2019. If you are unable to attend but want to be a part of the AGN project journey or be kept in the loop then after, please get in touch with Prof Brent McInnes.