Unearthing Australia’s buried treasures

Australian Academy of Science, Media releases

Released on behalf of the Australian Academy of Science.

We know more about the surface of Mars than we do of the earth beneath our feet. Australian earth scientists are calling for a national program to map our country – 300 metres down under.

By mapping the surface of the continent last century, Australia’s geologists helped to locate the minerals that underpin our economy today. Now most of the surface deposits have been discovered and are being mined. To find more, researchers argue that we need to go deep into the Earth to understand where ore bodies are formed.

A long-term national project to map the crust of Australia in three dimensions down to more than 300 metres is needed. This ambitious initiative emerged from a Think Tank involving 60 of the nation’s brightest young earth scientists held at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra last week. The plan is to provide information which will boost exploration by helping to predict where to look for natural resources all over the continent.

‘In effect, it is all about providing the essential data to help us understand our continent, so that we can manage it better’ says Dr Jon Hronsky, Director of Western Mining Services and Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Exploration Targeting in Western Australia.

‘Not only will this initiative assist the mining industry, but it will also allow us to discover resources such as new supplies of ground water and hot rocks for energy.’

‘The next Australian Government needs to face this issue of where the mineral deposits which will grow our future economy are to be found. At present we know more about the surface of Mars, than we do about what lies 10 metres under our feet.’

Some of the important elements of the initiative include:

•             a national map of the loose, weathered material which covers solid ore-bearing rock

•             the development of innovative new technologies for mapping the rock

•             a strategic deep drilling program to verify the results

•             a national program of technology transfer from research into exploration companies

The multidisciplinary discussions that led to these conclusions will be summarised along with further details of the initiative in a report of the proceedings of the Think Tank.

For further information contact:

Dr Jon Hronsky on 0417 992 518 or jon.hronsky@wesminllc.com

or Mona Akbari, Australian Academy of Science on (02) 6201 9452, 0447 679 612, or mona.akbari@science.org.au