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  • Sub-glacial geothermal heat flow is acknowledged to be a critical, yet poorly constrained, boundary parameter influencing ice sheet behaviour (Winsborrow et al 2010). Geothermal heat flow is the sum of residual heat from the formation of the Earth and the natural heat generated within the Earth from the radiogenic decay of the major heat producing elements (HPEs), U, Th and K. Estimates of the sub-glacial geothermal heat flow in Antarctica are largely deduced from remotely-sensed low-resolution datasets such as seismic tomography or satellite-based geomagnetics. These methods provide broad regional estimates of geothermal heat flow reflecting variations in the mantle contribution as a function of thickness of a thermally homogeneous crust. These estimates of sub-glacial geothermal heat flow, although widely utilised in ice sheet modelling studies, fail to account for lateral and vertical heterogeneity of heat production within the crust where HPEs are concentrated and that are known to significantly impact regional geothermal heat flow values. Significant variations in regional geothermal heat flow due to heterogeneous crustal distribution of HPEs have been recognised within southern Australia (e.g. McLaren et al., 2006), a region that was connected to east Antarctica along the George V, Adélie and Wilkes Lands coastline prior to breakup of Gondwana. The South Australian Heat Flow Anomaly (SAHFA; e.g. Neumann et al., 2000) is characterized by surface heat flows as high as 126 mWm-2, some '2-3 times' that of typical continental values, due to local enrichment of HPEs. The SAHFA forms part of a once contiguous continental block called the Mawson Continent, a now dismembered crustal block that is known, from geological and geophysical evidence, to extend deep into the sub-glacial interior of the Antarctic. It is highly probable that the high geothermal heat flow characteristics of the SAHFA also extend into the sub-glacial hinterland of Terra Adélie and George V lands, a possibility that has not been previously considered in ice sheet studies. In order to account for the occurrence of several sub-glacial lakes in Adélie Land, Siegert & Dowdeswell (1996) concluded that 'a further 25-50 mWm-2 of equivalent geothermal heat' was required over the assumed local geothermal heat flow of ca. 54 mWm-2. Although that study concluded that the additional heat required for basal melting was derived from internal ice deformation, they also acknowledged the possible role of variations in geothermal heat flow, and now that the SAHFA is well characterised, this is a possibility that appears very likely.

  • Imagine you are an incident controller viewing a computer screen which depicts the likely spread of a bushfire that's just started. The display shows houses and other structures in the fire's path, and even the demographics of the people living in the area - such as the number of people, their age spread, whether the household has independent transport, and whether English is their second language. In addition, imagine that you can quantify and display the uncertainty in both the fire weather and also the type and state of the vegetation, enabling the delivery of a range of simulations relating to the expected fire spread and impact. You will be able to addresses the 'what if' scenarios as the event unfolds and reject those scenarios that are no longer plausible. The advantages of such a simulation system in making speedy, well-informed decisions has been considered by a group of Bushfire CRC researchers who have collaborated to produce a 'proof of concept' system initially for use in addressing 3 case studies. The system has the working name FireDST (Fire Impact and Risk Evaluation Decision Support Tool). FireDST links various databases and models, including the Phoenix RapidFire fire prediction model and building vulnerability assessment model (radiant heat and ember attack), as well as infrastructure and demographic databases. The information is assembled into an integrated simulation framework through a geographical information system (GIS) interface. Pre-processed information, such as factors that determine the local and regional wind, and also the typical response of buildings to fire, are linked with the buildings through a database, along with census-derived social and economic information. This presentation provides an overview of the FireDST simulation 'proof of concept' tool and walks through a sample probabilistic simulation constructed using the tool.

  • Building a continental-scale land cover monitoring framework for Australia

  • The Australian Government formally releases new offshore exploration areas at the annual APPEA conference. In 2012, twenty-seven areas in nine offshore basins are being released for work program bidding. Closing dates for bid submissions are either six or twelve months after the release date, i.e. 8 November 2012 and 9 May 2013, depending on the exploration status in these areas and on data availability. As was the case in 2011, this year's Release again covers a total offshore area of about 200,000 km2. The Release Areas are located in Commonwealth waters offshore Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania (Figure 1). Areas on the North West Shelf feature prominently again and include underexplored shallow water areas in the Arafura and Money Shoal basins and rank frontier deep water areas in the outer Browse and Roebuck basins as well as on the outer Exmouth Plateau. Following the recent uptake of exploration permits in the Bight Basin (Ceduna and Duntroon sub-basins) Australia's southern margin is well represented in the 2012 Acreage Release. Three new blocks in the Ceduna Sub-basin, four blocks in the Otway Basin, one large block in the Sorell Basin and two blocks in the eastern Gippsland Basin are on offer. Multiple industry nominations for this Acreage Release were received, confirming the healthy status of exploration activity in Australia. The Australian government continues to support these activities by providing free access to a wealth of geological and geophysical data.

  • Geoscience Australia is supporting the exploration and development of offshore oil and gas resources and establishment of Australia's national representative system of marine protected areas through provision of spatial information about the physical and biological character of the seabed. Central to this approach is prediction of Australia's seabed biodiversity from spatially continuous data of physical seabed properties. However, information for these properties is usually collected at sparsely-distributed discrete locations, particularly in the deep ocean. Thus, methods for generating spatially continuous information from point samples become essential tools. Such methods are, however, often data- or even variable- specific and it is difficult to select an appropriate method for any given dataset. Improving the accuracy of these physical data for biodiversity prediction, by searching for the most robust spatial interpolation methods to predict physical seabed properties, is essential to better inform resource management practises. In this regard, we conducted a simulation experiment to compare the performance of statistical and mathematical methods for spatial interpolation using samples of seabed mud content across the Australian margin. Five factors that affect the accuracy of spatial interpolation were considered: 1) region; 2) statistical method; 3) sample density; 4) searching neighbourhood; and 5) sample stratification by geomorphic provinces. Bathymetry, distance-to-coast and slope were used as secondary variables. In this study, we only report the results of the comparison of 14 methods (37 sub-methods) using samples of seabed mud content with five levels of sample density across the southwest Australian margin. The results of the simulation experiment can be applied to spatial data modelling of various physical parameters in different disciplines and have application to a variety of resource management applications for Australia's marine region.

  • Floodplain vegetation can be degraded from both too much and too little water due to regulation. Over-regulation and increased use of groundwater in these landscapes can exacerbate the effects related to natural climate variability. Prolonged flooding of woody plants has been found to induce a number of physiological disturbances such as early stomatal closure and inhibition of photosynthesis. However drought conditions can also result in leaf biomass reduction and sapwood area decline. Depending on the species, different inundation and drought tolerances are observed. This paper focuses specifically on differing lake level management practices in order to assess associated environmental impacts. In western NSW, two Eucalyptus species, River Red Gum (E. camaldulensis) and Black Box (E. largiflorens) have well documented tolerances and both are located on the fringes of lakes in the Menindee Lakes Storage Water scheme. Flows to these lakes have been controlled since 1960 and lake levels monitored since 1979. Pre-regulation aerial photos indicate a significant change to the distribution of lake-floor and fringing vegetation in response to increased inundation frequency and duration. In addition, by coupling historic lake water-level data with a Landsat satellite imagery, spatial and temporal vegetation response to different water regimes has been observed. Two flood events specifically investigated are the 2010/11 and 1990 floods. Results from this analysis provide historic examples of vegetation response to lake regulation including whether recorded inundation duration and frequency resulted in positive or negative impacts, the time delay till affects become evident, duration of observed response and general recovery/reversal times. These findings can be used to inform ongoing water management decisions.

  • In 1994, the United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific resolved to establish a Permanent Committee comprising of national surveying and mapping agencies to address the concept of establishing a common geographic information infrastructure for the region. This resolution subsequently led to the establishment of the Permanent Committee for GIS Infrastructure for the Asia and Pacific (PCGIAP). One of the goals of the PCGIAP was to establish and maintain a precise understanding of the relationship between permanent geodetic stations across the region. To this end, campaign-style geodetic-GPS observations, coordinated by Geoscience Australia, have been undertaken throughout the region since 1997. In this presentation, we discuss the development of an Asia Pacific regional reference frame based on the PCGIAP GPS campaign data, which now includes data from 417 non-IGS GPS stations and provides long term crustal deformation estimates for over 200 GPS stations throughout the region. We overview and evaluate: our combination strategy with particular emphasis on the alignment of the solution onto the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF); the sensitivity of the solution to reference frame site selection; the treatment of regional co-seismic and post-seismic deformation; and the Asia-Pacific contribution to the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) Working Group on "Regional Dense Velocity Fields". The level of consistency of the coordinate estimates with respect to ITRF2005 is 6, 5, 15 mm, in the east, north and up components, respectively, while the velocity estimates are consistent at 2, 2, 6 mm/yr in the east, north and up components, respectively.

  • Geoscience Australia has been acquiring deep crustal reflection seismic transects throughout Australia since the 1960s. The results of these surveys have motivated major interpretations of important geological regions, contributed to the development of continental-scale geodynamic models, and improved understanding about large-scale controls on mineral systems. Over the past five years, Geoscience Australia has acquired over 6000 km of deep crustal seismic reflection data under the auspices of the Predictive Mineral Discovery Cooperative Research Centre (pmd*CRC), Onshore Energy Security Program (OESP), AuScope Earth Imaging (part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy), and all mainland State and Territory governments. These seismic datasets continue to underpin fundamental research into the geodynamics of the Australian continent and provide the third dimension for pre-competitive geoscience information related to mineral and energy resources in selected provinces and basins. Regional seismic reflection surveys currently utilise three Hemi 50 or 60 vibrators at 80 m VP with 40 m group interval, resulting in 75 fold data to 20 s TWT. In-house processing is aimed at providing a whole of crust image, without sacrificing shallow detail. Gravity readings are also collected along the lines at 400 m intervals to assist integrated regional interpretations based on the seismic traverses. Magnetotelluric (MT) soundings, including both broad-band and long period, have been acquired along most traverses. MT provides an image of the conductivity of the crust which is complementary to the structural information obtained from reflection seismic. Geoscience Australia is currently developing an in-house MT processing and modelling capability.

  • This Record presents data collected as part of the ongoing NTGS-GA geochronology project between July 2012 and June 2013 under the National Geoscience Agreement (NGA). In total, 6 new U-Pb SHRIMP zircon and monazite geochronological results derived from 6 samples from the Amadeus Basin, Arunta Region and Murphy Province in the Northern Territory are presented herein (Table 1). Two metasedimentary samples were collected from the Amadeus Basin (ILLOGWA CREEK1) and two samples from the Arunta Region: garnet-biotite gneiss on ILLOGWA CREEK and biotite granite from HUCKITTA. One metasedimentary and one igneous sample were sampled from the Murphy Province (CALVERT HILLS). Six additional samples were submitted for SHRIMP analysis but did not yield any zircon.

  • Monitoring changes in the spatial distribution and health of biotic habitats requires spatially extensive surveys repeated through time. Although a number of habitat distribution mapping methods have been successful in clear, shallow-water coastal environments (e.g. aerial photography and Landsat imagery) and deeper (e.g. multibeam and sidescan sonar) marine environments, these methods fail in highly turbid and shallow environments such as many estuarine ecosystems. To map, model and predict key biotic habitats (seagrasses, green and red macroalgae, polychaete mounds [Ficopamatus enigmaticus] and mussel clumps [Mytilus edulis]) across a range of open and closed estuarine systems on the south-west coast of Western Australia, we integrated post-processed underwater video data with interpolated physical and spatial variables using Random Forest models. Predictive models and associated standard deviation maps were developed from fine-scale habitat cover data. Models performed well for spatial predictions of benthic habitats, with 79-90% of variation explained by depth, latitude, longitude and water quality parameters. The results of this study refine existing baseline maps of estuarine habitats and highlight the importance of biophysical processes driving plant and invertebrate species distribution within estuarine ecosystems. This study also shows that machine-learning techniques, now commonly used in terrestrial systems, also have important applications in coastal marine ecosystems. When applied to video data, these techniques provide a valuable approach to mapping and managing ecosystems that are too turbid for optical methods or too shallow for acoustic methods.