Knowledge of Australia’s geological structure and evolution makes a fundamental contribution to understanding and managing our environment, developing mineral and energy resources and anticipating and responding to natural disasters.
The $42.8 million the Australian Government has committed to geoscience through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) is helping to build an integrated national infrastructure system – AuScope.
The AuScope infrastructure is managed by a non-profit company – AuScope Ltd – with members including the CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, 11 universities, and state government agencies.
The NCRIS funding is being used to develop advanced systems for acquiring and analysing geophysical and geochemical data, such as the development of a virtual library of drill core samples from across Australia.
The funding is also being used to develop a world-leading geoscience data network, drawing together information from the national infrastructure. This data is being used to build an open-access, four-dimensional model of the Australian continent that provides a journey across space and time in the nation’s geology.
An enhanced national geospatial reference system is also being developed to support work in precision agriculture, mining and large-scale engineering.
This project will provide the infrastructure to underpin superior mineral, energy and water resource management for the next generation.
I believe the main benefit for research is that for the first time it will enable the complete integration of higher education and wider government agencies in their work. Previously research was quite compartmentalised and not all information sources were readily accessible, particularly for higher education researchers. This project has found a place at the table for the universities and by sharing data information and knowledge across geoscience applications the research community will benefit as a whole. Collaboration has been crucial in bringing about this major breakthrough for the Australian geoscience research community.
Dr Mike Etheridge, Project Facilitator, AuScope
AuScope is a geoscience and geospatial infrastructure system that combines traditional research infrastructure with applied science infrastructure. The AuScope infrastructure system is a seamless, broadly accessible, fully integrated blend of technology, data and knowledge infrastructure that will transform the practice of and outcomes from geoscience for researchers, industry and the wider community.
The AuScope major data acquisition infrastructure comprises four components: Earth Imaging and Structure; Earth Materials and Properties (the ‘Virtual Core Library’); Earth Composition and Evolution, and; AuScope Geospatial Framework and Earth Dynamics.
Earth Imaging and Structure is building on the resources of the Australian National Seismic Imaging Resource (ANSIR) Major National Research Facility. Based at the ANU, ANSIR has a pool of state-of-the-art seismic equipment suitable for experiments on a wide variety of scales, from the investigation of geologic structures on environmental and mine scales through to studies at the continental scale of the entire lithosphere.
Earth Materials and Properties (the ‘Virtual Core Library’) is creating an innovative earth science research network building a high resolution picture of the mineralogy and composition of the upper 1 km of the Australian continent based on the huge and rich legacy of drill samples already held, and to be acquired by State agencies and industry in the future. It is building future knowledge on past endeavours, and will continue this into the future to minimise further duplication.
Earth Composition and Evolution is providing new geochemical instrumentation and improved access to existing quality geochemical infrastructure, and a national data management and delivery network to provide the basis for understanding the formation mechanisms and time context of the geological components that constitute the Australian continent.
AuScope Geospatial Framework and Earth Dynamics is establishing and operating a comprehensive national geodetic infrastructure at increased levels of accuracy and time resolution. The new geospatial infrastructure is generating a significant quantity of data being used to improve the accuracy of Australia’s Reference Frame, as well as allowing Australian scientists to investigate pressing questions such as sea-level variation.
AuScope further comprises two ICT components: the AuScope Grid and the AuScope Simulator.
The AuScope Grid comprises distributed data storage hardware, high bandwidth network links, data management protocols, middleware and software, and is the ‘glue’ that enables AuScope to be substantially more than the sum of its parts. The AuScope Grid has been planned and built in conjunction with the NCRIS ‘Platforms for Collaboration’ capability.
The AuScope Simulator is a toolkit of simulation, modelling, inversion and data mining tools, underpinned by parameters provided through the AuScope ‘Earth Composition and Evolution’ component. The AuScope simulator makes extensive use of software, techniques and expertise developed through the Australian Computational Earth Systems Simulator (ACcESS) Major National Research Facility.
A key principle of NCRIS is that the facilities funded by the program should be accessible to researchers on the basis of merit at reasonable prices, wherever they are located in Australia.
For further information, please see the AuScope homepage at http://www.auscope.org.au/
For enquiries about AuScope, please contact:
Dr Bob Haydon
Chief Executive Officer
School of Earth Sciences
UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE VIC 3010
Phone: +61 (3) 8344 6514
Mobile: +61 (419) 288 033
For matters related to management of the NCRIS program, please contact the NCRIS Team by email or by telephone on 02 6276 6025.