Dr Georgia Ward-Fear

Dr Georgia Ward-Fear is a conservation scientist, reptile biologist, and explorer. From a young age, watching David Attenborough investigate the mysteries of nature had her hooked on investigating them herself. Georgia developed ‘The Cane Toad Coalition’ (2017), a strategic partnership between prominent conservation organisations, Indigenous NGOs and cultural groups, State governments and regional stakeholders; never before had these organisations allied in this way. Georgia leads the coalition, with the ambitious task of delivering the largest and most innovative strategy for cane toad mitigation to date; it’s working.

Djarra Delaney

Djarra Delaney is from the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island. Growing up and studying in Brisbane he went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts (with a major in English and Philosophy) from the University of Queensland, and is currently a PhD researcher at the University of Melbourne. His current studies focus on resilience planning in remote and vulnerable communities. His experience in growing up on an environmentally sensitive and beautiful island off of the South-East Queensland coast showed the importance of building community led resilience activities to respond to the effects of climate change. He currently manages the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website at the Bureau of Meteorology, and acted as the Bureau’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Engagement Coordinator. Djarra has a love of the environment, and is especially interested in our relationship with the world around us. It is this passion that led him to apply to the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne, as part of the APS Graduate Pathways Program in mid-2014. Djarra’s major achievements were a content and aesthetic redevelopment of the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website and the planning and writing the monthly stories for the popular 2017 Australian Weather Calendar.

Dr. Jarrod Hore


Dr. Jarrod Hore is an environmental historian of settler colonialism, indigenous knowledge and Australian geology. His work on settler colonial identity, landscape photography, early environmentalism and antipodean Romanticism has been published in Australian Historical Studies, History Australia and the Australian Book Review. Jarrod holds a PhD from Macquarie University (2019) and in 2020 he is the David Scott Mitchell Memorial Fellow at the State Library of New South Wales.

Dr. Heather Handley (Chair)


Dr. Heather Handley (Chair) is an Associate Professor of Volcanology and Geochemistry at Macquarie University. She is a Science and Technology Australia 2021-2022 Superstar of STEM. Heather’s current research interests include the integration of Indigenous oral knowledge with volcanological and geochronological knowledge to advance our understanding of prehistoric volcanic eruptions and their impacts in Australasia. Heather is Co-Founder and President of the Women in Earth and Environmental Sciences Australasia Network (WOMEESA). She received an AIPS NSW Young Tall Poppy Award in 2014 and has led more than 40 outreach events and workshops including mentoring in the Waranara Mentoring Program for high achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students. Heather frequently writes for The Conversation, has given over 60 television, radio and print interviews on volcanoes and she has featured in documentaries for National Geographic and Discovery Channel Science.

Prof. Patrick Nunn


Prof. Patrick Nunn is a Professor of Geography & Co-Director of the Sustainability Research Centre. He has worked extensively on Indigenous insights into Holocene volcanism in Australia and the Pacific Islands, as well as on Indigenous memories of island collapse (mega-landsliding) and associated extreme wave impacts. He has also done a lot of work on Indigenous recollections of postglacial sea-level rise in Australia and elsewhere. Firmly believing in the importance of community awareness, Patrick has ensured that the results of his research have been returned to the people of the land in ways that they can understand its nature and importance, something helped in the case of Fiji by his fluency in the Fijian language and his familiarity with cultural protocols.

Prof. Greg Lehman


The University’s (UTAS) Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Greg Lehman, leads a team dedicated to consolidating a whole of University respect and embedding of Indigenous perspectives, knowledges and culture across research, teaching and community partnership. We want to ensure that engaging with the University of Tasmania, whether as a student, staff member or community member, provides the experience of a University that celebrates Aboriginal Tasmania’s deep history, its diversity of cultures and values, and continually builds its Aboriginal connections.

Dr. Duane Hamacher


Dr. Duane Hamacher is an Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy in the ARC Centre of Excellence in All-Sky Astrophysics in 3-Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) within School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. Duane researches cultural astronomy, Dark Sky studies, astronomical heritage, and the history and philosophy of science. He developed a subject on Indigenous Astronomy at the University of Melbourne (PHYC10010) which kicks off in Semester 1 of 2021, which features Indigenous guest lecturers from around the world. Duane’s service includes working as a heritage expert for UNESCO, an expert panellist for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curricula Project.

Rebe Taylor


Senior Research Fellow, College of Arts, Law and Education UTAS: Rebe Taylor took on the role as Senior Research Fellow at the College of Arts, Law and Education in April 2018. She is an award-winning historian with more than twenty years of experience researching and writing the histories of southeast Australian indigenous peoples and European settlement for academic and literary publications, web resources and museum spaces. Until early 2018, Rebe held the inaugural Coral Thomas Fellow at State Library NSW. She has also held numerous Fellowships at The University of Melbourne and Kings College London. Rebe’s most recent book, Into the Heart of Tasmania, published by Melbourne University Press, won the 2018 Tasmanian Book Prize, the 2018 Queensland Premier’s Award for history, and the inaugural Joan and Dick Family Green Award for Tasmanian History.

Geochemical and mineralogical characterization of tailings: Evaluating the potential for reprocessing the Bobadil tailings, Rosebery

1Jackson, Laura, 2K ng, Lexi, 1Parbhakar-Fox, Anita, 3Meffre, Sebastien

1The W.H. Bryan Mining & Geology Research Centre, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; 2RGS Environmental, Brisbane, Australia; 3 The school of Natural Sciences, The University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania

The Rosebery Pb-Zn-Cu-Ag mine, 3 km north west of Rosebery, Tasmania, Australia has been in operation since 1936. During this time >17 Mt of tailings were deposited in Bobadil Tailings Storage Facility, which opened in 1974 and reached capacity in 2018. Historically the materials contained in the Bobadil tailings are known to be endowed in ecotoxic metals including Pb, Zn, Cu, As and Mn, as would be expected based on the ore mineralogy (i.e., sphalerite, galena, pyrite). To assess the risks posed, samples were collected from 10 trenches (52 samples) and 4 cores the upper 2 m across the accessible parts of the TSF and detailed geochemical and mineralogical studies (e.g., acid base accounting (ABA), X-ray diffractometry, sulphide alteration index (SAI), mineral liberation analysis (MLA), scanning electron microscopy, laser ablation ICPMS) undertaken to assess the viability of reprocessing as a means to reducing environmental risks associated with the facility, and extend the mine life.

Eleven facies (A to K) were visually defined in these sampled tailings, ranging from oxidised hardpan (i.e., Facies K) to fresher sulphide dominated tailings (Facies A). Despite this visual heterogeneity, ABA results classified all samples as potentially acid forming (PAF) with total sulphur ranging from 3.8 to 13.8 %. The inherent acid neutralising potential (ANC) was low across all facies (0.5 to 1.9 % carbon) and is complimentary to the measured tailings mineralogy which reported a low abundance of carbonates (<2 % calcite). Sulphide alteration index (SAI) values confirm most tailings as un-oxidised to partially armoured. When SAI values are screened against paste pH values, these materials classified as PAF with a lag time to AMD generation anticipated. MLA results reported >89 % of pyrite as liberated and where locked, mineral associations were dominantly with muscovite and quartz. To determine the tenor and deportment of precious, base and critical metals in the pyrite and sphalerite LA-ICP-MS analysis reported trace metals (e.g., Co, Ni, Cd and Bi) in pyrite were considered low, whist in sphalerite bivalent metals including Cd and Mn were notably high. Only two Au inclusions were identified in MLA-SEM images.  Due to the homogenous, trace element free and highly liberated pyrite particles these tailings could be amenable to reprocessing and desulphurisation. The remaining gangue tailings have the potential to be reused into products such as ceramics, road base and industrial building materials. With additional analysis of tailings at depth, a robust retreatment framework could be redeveloped to help remove the requirement to maintain and manage a large tailings facility in perpetuity.


Lexi is a geochemist at RGS Environmental. She has completed an Honours degree in Environmental Geochemistry at the University of Tasmania. Her Honours study involved the characterisation of mineralogy and geoenvironmental behaviour of mine waste (tailings) as part of the rehabilitation plan for a tailings storage facility in Western Tasmania.

Searching for life on Mars in our own backyard; the quest for a second genesis

Van Kranendonk, Martin J.

Australian Centre for Astrobiology, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW, Australia

Ancient life thrived on an early Earth that was a very different planet to the one we inhabit today, with green seas filled with dissolved iron, an orange sky rich in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, and small black volcanic protocontinents. Yet by 3.5 billion years ago – “only” 500 million years after the end of the heavy meteorite bombardment and in the oldest rocks that preserve widespread primary features at low metamorphic grade – life had diversified into a variety of niches and employed a variety of metabolisms.
This evidence is preserved in the 3.5 billion-year-old (Ga), shallow water North Pole Chert Member of the Dresser Formation (Pilbara Craton, Western Australia), where putative biosignatures in the form of macroscopic fossil stromatolites, fractionated stable isotopes, and organic matter occurrences are widespread. These have been described from environments that include the shoreline of a shallow water caldera lake, subterranean hydrothermal veins, evaporative barite crystals, and terrestrial hot spring sinter deposits. The discovery of trapped organic matter remnants in columnar Dresser stromatolites that have a similar appearance to extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of microbial biofilms provide compelling evidence of life. The Dresser stromatolites are unusual in being dominantly composed of nanoporous pyrite, with subordinate sphalerite and dolomite. This assemblage most likely formed via anoxygenic photosynthesis and sulfate reduction, and perhaps also microbes that cycled elemental sulfur and/or sulfide. Putative biosignatures in hot spring deposits on land at this time indicate a microbial community that may have utilised a range of different metabolisms.
The discovery of life on land in the Pilbara 3.5 Ga ago, and in the Barberton Greenstone Belt by 3.2 Ga, changes the way we think about the evolution of life over the course of Earth history and supports recent studies that suggest life may have originated in hot springs on land. Indeed, the Dresser Formation provides a deep-time analogue for better understanding an origin of life on land model.
Additionally, the Dresser Formation provides an important guide in the search for ancient life on Mars. Specifically, the discovery of ancient life signatures preserved in siliceous hot spring deposits from the Dresser Formation, combined with the increasing evidence that life may have originated in hot springs, suggests that these deposits may represent the best chance for success in the search for life on Mars, not only because of the likelihood that hot springs would have been inhabited if life ever got started on Mars, but also because of the proven excellent preservation potential of these rocks over billions of years. Stratiform deposits of nodular opaline silica with digitate protrusions that were observed by the Spirit Rover in the Columbia Hills of Gusev Crater, Mars, are of probable hot spring origin and represent a tantalising astrobiological target. A sample return mission to collect these, and other nearby materials, is being developed.

About the GSA

The Geological Society of Australia was established as a non-profit organisation in 1952 to promote, advance and support Earth sciences in Australia.

As a broadly based professional society that aims to represent all Earth Science disciplines, the GSA attracts a wide diversity of members working in a similarly broad range of industries.