From 1 - 9 / 9
  • This short video by the Geoscience Australia Education Team is targeted at upper primary students but is suitable for a wider audience. It introduces the concept of tectonic plates making use of a tectonic plates puzzle. Students are asked to predict the direction and speed of plate movement and consider where and why earthquakes happen on the Australian Plate. It is an introduction to major concepts of Earth science delivered in a light-hearted manner with an interactive presentation style.

  • Australia is one of the lowest, flattest, most arid, and most slowly eroding continents on Earth (Quigley et al. 2010). The average elevation of the continent is only c. 330 m above sea level (asl), maximum local topographic relief is everywhere <1500 m (defined by elevation ranges with 100 km radii) and two-thirds of the continent is semi-arid to arid. With the exception of localized upland areas in the Flinders and Mt Lofty Ranges (Quigley et al. 2007a, Quigley et al. 2007b) and the Eastern Highlands (Chappell 2006, Tomkins et al. 2007), bedrock erosion rates are typically 1-10 m/Ma (Wellman & McDougall 1974, Bishop 1985, Young & MacDougall 1993, Bierman & Caffee 2002, Belton et al. 2004, Chappell 2006, Heimsath et al. 2010) (Fig. 1A). Despite this apparent geomorphological longevity (e.g. Fig. 1B), Australia has had a dynamic Neogene to Recent tectonic history. In the last five decades seven locations in intraplate Australia are documented as having experienced earthquakes large enough to rupture the ground surface (Clark et al. 2013). These earthquakes produced scarps up to 2 m high and 37 km long. Several hundred features consistent in form to the historic ruptures have since been identified Australia-wide (Fig. 2), mainly through interrogation of digital elevation data (Clark et al. 2011, Clark et al. 2012). Palaeoseismic analysis of these features indicates that periods of earthquake activity comprising a finite number of large events are separated by much longer periods of seismic quiescence. While morphogenic earthquake events in an active period on a given fault may be separated by a few thousand years (-0.4 mm/a uplift rates in an active period), active periods might be separated by a million years or more (long term uplift rates -0.001mm/a). A rupture sequence of this kind has the potential to have a dramatic effect on the landscape, especially in regions of low local topographic relief, such as the Murray Basin. For example, uplift across the Cadell Fault (see Fig. 2 for location) in the interval 70 - 20 ka resulted in the formation of a 15 m high and 80 km long scarp which temporarily dammed, and ultimately diverted the Murray and Goulburn Rivers (McPherson et al. 2012). Even in upland regions, the effects can be marked, as demonstrated by the formation of Lake George over the last ca. 4 Ma as the result of uplift on the Lake George Fault (Pillans 2012). Over timescales of millions of years, such activity, in combination with mantle-related dynamic topographic effects (Sandiford 2007, Sandiford et al. 2009, Quigley et al. 2010), might be expected to have a significant influence on the distribution and thickness of regolith over large areas.

  • On 23 March 2012 a MW 5.4 intraplate earthquake occurred in the eastern Musgrave Ranges of north-central South Australia, near the community of Ernabella (Pukatja). This was the largest earthquake recorded on mainland Australia in the past 15 years and resulted in the formation of a 1.6 km-long surface deformation zone that included reverse fault scarps with a maximum vertical displacement of ~0.5 m (average ~0.1 m), extensive ground cracking, and numerous rock falls. Fifteen months later, on 09 June 2013 a MW 5.6 earthquake (the Mulga Park earthquake) occurred ~15-20 km northwest of the 2012 rupture. The P-axes of the focal mechanisms constructed for both events indicate northeast-oriented horizontal compressive stress. However, the focal mechanism for the Mulga Park earthquake suggests strike-slip failure, with a sub-vertical northerly-trending nodal plane favoured as the failure plane, in contrast to the thrust mechanism for the 2012 event. Despite being felt more widely than the 2012 event, ground cracking and minor dune settlement were the only surface expressions relating to the Mulga Park earthquake. No vertical displacements were evident, nor were patterns indicative of a significant lateral displacement. An 18 km long north to north east trending arcuate band of moderate to high cracking density was mapped parallel to the surface trace of the Woodroffe Thrust, a major crust-penetrating fault system. A lobe of high-density cracking ~5km long, coincident with the calculated epicentral location, extended to the north from the centre of the main arc. We speculate that the rupture progressed to the south beneath the northern high-density lobe (consistent with the dimensions expected from new scaling relations), and that the larger arcuate band of cracking might relate to positive interference resulting from reflection of energy from the Woodroffe Thrust interface. Both events provide new insight into the rupture behaviour of faults in non-extended cratonic crust.

  • This web service contains marine geospatial data held by Geoscience Australia. It includes bathymetry and backscatter gridded data plus derived layers, bathymetry coverage information, bathmetry collection priority and planning areas, marine sediment data and other derived products. It also contains the 150 m and optimal resolution bathymetry, 5 m sidescan sonar (SSS) and synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) data collected during phase 1 and 2 marine surveys conducted by the Governments of Australia, Malaysia and the People's Republic of China for the search of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean. This web service allows exploration of the seafloor topography through the compilation of multibeam sonar and other marine datasets acquired.

  • The Cadell Fault, found in stable continental region (SCR) crust in southeastern Australia, provides a record of temporally clustered morphogenic earthquakes spanning much of the Cenozoic. The slip rate, averaged over perhaps as many as five complete seismic cycles in the period 70–20 ka, is c. 0.4–0.5 mm/a, compared with an average rate of c. 0.005–0.01 mm/a over the period spanning the late Miocene to Recent. If full length rupture of the 80 km long feature is assumed, the average recurrence for Mw 7.3–7.5 earthquake events on the Cadell Fault in the period 70–20 ka is c. 8 kyr. About 20 kyr, representing more than two average seismic cycles, have lapsed since the most recent morphogenic seismic event on the fault. It might therefore be speculated that this fault has relapsed into a quiescent period. Episodic rupture behaviour on the Cadell Fault, and nearby faults in Phanerozoic SCR crust in eastern Australia, might be controlled by their linkage into major crustal fault systems at depth, in apparent contrast with the style of deformation in non-extended Precambrian SCR crust. Periods of strain localization on these major crustal fault systems, effectively turning deforming regions ‘on’ and ‘off’, might be influenced by changes in distant plate boundary forces. If proved, this would have profound consequences for how the occurrence of large earthquakes is assessed in Australia, as the fundamental assumption of morphogenic earthquakes occurring as a result of the progressive build-up of strain, and thus being in some way predictable in their periodicity, is not satisfied. Documenting such fault behaviour in SCR crust assists in conceptualizing the points critical to understanding the hazards posed by SCR faults worldwide.

  • The Geoscience Australia Structural Measurements Database contains field measurements of geological structure features such as bedding, foliation, lineation, faults and folds from field sites, measured sections, and boreholes. The database is delivered as a layer in Geoscience Australia's "Geological Field Sites, Samples and Observations" web service.

  • These data comprises the 3D geophysical and geological map of the Georgina-Arunta region, Northern Territory. This 3D map summarises the key basement provinces of this region, including the geometric relationships between these provinces. Depth of cover data, and approximate thicknesses of key basins within the region are also provided. Supporting geophysical studies, including inversions of gravity and magnetic data, and seismic data and their corresponding interpretations acquired under the Australian Government's Onshore Energy Security Program, are included with this 3D map. Finally, additional data, such as topographic data, are also included.

  • Paleoproterozoic arc and backarc assemblages accreted to the south Laurentian margin between 1800 Ma and 1600 Ma, and previously thought to be indigenous to North America, more likely represent fragments of a dismembered marginal sea developed outboard of the formerly opposing Australian-Antarctic plate. Fugitive elements of this arc-backarc system in North America share a common geological record with their left-behind Australia-Antarctic counterparts, including discrete peaks in tectonic and/or magmatic activity at 1780 Ma, 1760 Ma, 1740 Ma, 1710-1705 Ma, 1690-1670 Ma, 1650 Ma and 1620 Ma. Subduction rollback, ocean basin closure and the arrival of Laurentia at the Australian-Antarctic convergent margin first led to arc-continent collision at 1650-1640 Ma and then continent-continent collision by 1620 Ma as the last vestiges of the backarc basin collapsed. Collision induced obduction and transfer of the arc and more outboard parts of the Australian-Antarctic backarc basin onto the Laurentian margin where they remained following later breakup of the Neoproterozoic Rodinia supercontinent. North American felsic rocks generally yield Nd depleted mantle model ages consistent with arc and backarc assemblages built on early Paleoproterozoic Australian crust as opposed to older Archean basement making up the now underlying Wyoming and Superior cratons. Appeared in Lithosphere (2019) 11 (4): 551–559, June 10, 2019.

  • This release comprises the 3D geological model of the Yilgarn-Officer-Musgrave (YOM) region, Western Australia, as Gocad voxets and surfaces. The YOM 3D geological model was built to highlight the broad-scale crustal architecture of the region and extends down to 60 km depth.