Quarrying data for gems of knowledge

Media releases

Released on behalf of the Australian Academy of Science

Predicting where Australia’s next mineral boom will come from is serious business. Data collected using satellite sensing, airborne surveys, seismic crews and prospecting teams is immense and is piling up rapidly. But what use are all these data?

‘This is a vast electronic resource and we need new methods to mine it for useful information,’ said Professor Dietmar Müller of the University of Sydney.

Professor Müller and his team are developing electronic tools to access and compile the data so that the changes over geological time in the Earth’s crust can be tracked and simulated. Known as the Virtual Geological Observatory (VIRGO), it is one of the new-generation tools Australia will need for future mineral exploration.

‘Accessing these distributed data sources is essential, bringing it to the fingertips of just about anyone. Infrastructure such as the national broadband network will radically accelerate this,’ he said.

He is a keynote speaker at the Theo Murphy High Flyer’s Think Tank beginning at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra today.

The High Flyers Think Tank 2010, Searching the Deep Earth: The Future of Australian Resource Discovery and Utilisation, is gathering of about 60 of the country’s brightest early-and mid-career research scientists from a range of disciplines relating to exploration and mining. They will be discussing questions such as: How are we going to find the next giant deposits to mine? What new technologies will we need to exploit them in a low-carbon future?

On the first day leading scientists will speak on a range of highly relevant topics including:

  • The challenge of discovering deeply buried ore deposits – Dr Neil Williams PSM FTSE
  • Knowledge discovery via a virtual geological observatory – Professor Dietmar Müller
  • Giant ore deposits: Why they are important! – Richard Schodde
  • Giant ore deposits: How do we get better at targeting them? – Dr Jon Hronsky
  • Society and exploration: Considerations for now and in the future – Peta Ashworth
  • Current issues for the future of innovation and new technologies in minerals exploration – Dr Tom Whiting.

Further information and program: www.science.org.au/events/thinktank2010/index.html

Event: 2010 High Flyers Think Tank

Date: 19-20 August 2010

Venue: Shine Dome, Gordon Street, Acton, Canberra

Contact: Tim Thwaites at Science in Public on (03) 9398 1416, 0422 817 372, tim@scienceinpublic.com.au

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