Science, conversations and community
Australian Geoscience Council Convention 2018
Opportunities to communicate geoscience don’t come much bigger than this year’s Australian Geoscience Council Convention (AGCC) held in Adelaide over the week of 14–18 October 2018. The AGCC was a fantastic experience for the Geological Survey of South Australia (GSSA) staff in attendance who presented 13 talks and 6 posters. These talks were well attended and covered a range of geoscience topics, from volcanology, metamorphic petrology, specific commodity studies such as uranium and copper, through to geophysics, geochemistry, geotourism and community engagement. Our staff also contributed to a number of workshops including one on the value of legacy data; tours of the South Australia Drill Core Reference Library for several delegations including the Geological Survey of India, and Geoscience Institute of Botswana; as well as the mid-conference field trip, which started at the bright and early time of 6 am at South Australia’s famous geological wonder that is Hallett Cove. Never an organisation to shirk away from an opportunity to shine a light on the geology and mineral potential of South Australia, our presence at the AGCC extended across all days, multiple sessions and multiple venues. The breadth of the GSSA’s involvement was truly a team effort.
Several of the plenary sessions within the AGCC itself were of direct relevance to GSSA and our related organisations and stakeholders. For example, the session on ‘Smoothing the boom and bust commodity cycle’ looked at ways companies and organisations can plan ahead and think differently to respond to the inevitable changes in commodity prices driven by geopolitical and economic forces, prices well beyond control of the average minerals company.
Another highlight was the plenary lecture on climate change by Dr Matthew Huber from Purdue University, Indiana. His talk, ‘The Miocene is the future: what past climates tell us now’, began with the observation that the existing climate models may well be underestimating the sensitivity of the earth’s climate system to greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide. Looking at the current levels of carbon dioxide, and various projections for global greenhouse budgets over the next few decades, he suggested that the type of climate we are heading towards could resemble those of the Miocene, particularly around 15 Ma when the global annual mean surface temperature was about 3 °C higher than present.
The plenary session on communicating geoscience had a panel of communication experts and was led by Professor Iain Stewart, known worldwide for his work with the BBC. Iain’s lecture covered a range of insights into science communication. Some of the key points were about engaging your audience through connecting with their innate sense of wonder and their inherent interest in the people behind the science, and through making our communication entertaining. Iain’s lecture in itself was a great example of taking these principles and making them relevant for a predominantly geoscience audience.
The AGCC delivered an excellent venue for conversation about geoscience, attracting both Australian and international visitors to Adelaide. GSSA was very well placed to engage in the discussions held and I believe all of those who attended came away with renewed focus on bigger issues in geoscience. In particular, it helped us consider the need to contribute as best we can towards geoscience literacy across the community, because the science of the earth really does underpin our modern society whether it be in terms of resources or environment and, as Iain Stewart emphasised, because of the sheer wonder that comes from deepening your understanding of the planet we live on.
GSSA’s Kate Robertson (third from right) on the panel for the Women in Earth & Environmental Science Australasia pre-conference workshop. The panel discussion focused on mentoring, in particular the benefits of mentoring and how to be a good mentor/mentee and establish and maintain a good mentoring relationship. (Courtesy of Women in Earth & Environmental Science Australasia)
The extensive poster display area provided an excellent space for networking: GSSA’s Anthony Reid and Anna Petts (second and fourth from left) with delegates from the Geological Survey of India. (Photo 416790)
The Adelaide launch of the new minerals cooperative research centre, MinEx CRC, also occurred during the AGCC. The CRC has secured $218 million for research collaboration aimed at developing technologies to increase the discovery of new mineral deposits. In the keynote address the Hon Dan van Holst Pellekaan MP, Minister for Energy and Mining, signalled his commitment to the new CRC and support for the GSSA’s role in delivering the CRC’s National Drilling Initiative. He particularly thanked researchers at the University of South Australia, the University of Adelaide and other universities, along with the mining and exploration companies involved in the CRC. Amongst the other excellent speakers including MinEx CRC Chairman Chris Pigram and CEO Andrew Bailey, it is worth noting that Michelle Carey, General Manager Product Development from IMDEX, gave a particularly inspired talk about the necessity for innovation in the minerals industry and the key technology opportunities that will flow from the new CRC.
- More details including the launch video on the MinEx CRC website
On the sidelines
The AGCC also provided an opportunity for GSSA to meet people from our partner organisations. A meeting between GSSA and representatives from the Geological Survey of New South Wales during the week enabled us to progress our collaborative work on understanding the Curnamona Province. In particular, to begin to flesh out the program for the 2019 Uncover Curnamona conference, which will be held in Broken Hill 23–25 July 2019 in association with the Geological Society of Australia. Look out for more details on the Minerals website in the near future.
GSSA was also able to meet with Dr Felipe Espinoza, Subdirector National Geology, from the Geological Survey of Chile. Sharing a mutual interest in the sustainable development of copper resources and understanding the geological processes leading to copper mineralisation, it was a great opportunity to discuss new geoscience insights from Chile, and also a collaborative work proposal for the next few years based on the memorandum of understanding that exists between our agencies.
– Anthony Reid, December 2018