MIWATCH head over to Perth for the Australian Earth Sciences Convention 2023

From 27-30th June, MIWATCH group members Associate Professor Anita Parbhakar-Fox, Dr Kam Bhowany, Dr Laura Jackson, Rosie Blannin, Enrique Saez Salgado and Holly Cooke were happy to attend the Australian Earth Sciences Convention (AESC) in Perth. With an overarching theme ‘Reimagining the Earth Sciences’, the convention reflected the critical need for Australian Earth Scientists to lead the way in developing sustainable solutions to the evolving needs of our society. The convention hosted many fascinating sessions on topics ranging from the preservation of ancient Aboriginal sites, through palaeontology, planetary sciences, surface processes, geoethics and geocommunication, all the way to Earth resources, with a focus on critical metals, past and future resources, and mine wastes. Many more interesting and diverse sessions took place, with something to interest everyone.

Attendees at table with person at lectern opening the Australian Earth Sciences Convention
Kicking off the Australian Earth Science Convention at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre (27-30th June 2023)

Laura Jackson kicked off the MIWATCH presentations, talking about mine wastes from the Hercules Mine in Tasmania. After giving a keynote at the World Mining Congress in Brisbane, Anita Parbhakar-Fox flew over to Perth to present her second keynote of the week at the AESC, presenting on critical minerals in Australia’s mine wastes. Anita was followed by talks from Kam Bhowany on the historic mine wastes at Zeehan, Tasmania, and from Rosie Blannin on geostatistical modelling of critical minerals in the Herberton tailings, Queensland. The team was delighted about the interest in their work and were excited to take part in an engaging discussion session after their talks.

collage of MIWATCH members giving presentations
Left to right: Anita Parbhakar-Fox, Kam Bhowany, Rosie Blannin and Laura Jackson give talks at the AESC.

The AESC also provided an excellent opportunity for networking with companies, government agencies, geological surveys and researchers from across Australia. With some sites in Western Australia being the next target for MIWATCH, we hope to be back over in Perth and the surroundings soon!

Before the conference, Rosie also had the pleasure of joining a field trip focused on ‘Redefining Archean terrane boundaries in the southwest Yilgarn Craton’, led by Raphael Quentin de Gromard (Geological Survey of Western Australia) and Cat Gill (University of Western Australia / Geological Survey of Western Australia). The trip visited key exposures of tectonised greenstones and high-grade gneisses in the well-exposed Toodyay-Northam area (about 100 km from Perth) and led to plenty of discussion and open-ended questions on the geological history of the southwest Yilgarn and the implications for Au–Cu, Ni–PGE, Ti–V, VMS, and Fe mineral systems. The trip gave Rosie an overview of the geological history of Western Australia and how this relates to ore deposits and mining, which will aid the MIWATCH team when investigating mine waste sites in the state (soon!). Check out some pictures of the amazing rocks below.

Rock texture displaying foliation, layering and folding.
First stop of the trip at the Noble Falls migmatite, where a migmatitic gneiss displays foliation, layering and folding, with a range of cross-cutting relationships and early stages of melting.
collage of landscape image and closeup of rock with quartzite succession at Poison Creek, Western Australia
A quartzite succession at Poison Creek. These rocks are upside down in the over-turned limb of an isoclinal syncline. How can we tell? In the right-hand picture, there are cross-beds preserved in the quartzite which formed over 2.6 billion years ago! These are upside down and tell us the younging direction.
Closeup of rock face textures at Posselts Cutting
At Posselts Cutting, 3 km to the east of the South West - Youanmi terrane boundary, tonalitic migmatite and mafic-ultramafic instusives are sheard and rafted in metagranodiorite are exposed. On the left we see mylonitic shear zone textures and on the right we see the development of abundant garnets (red colour) in a folded and sheared layer within a metasedimentary boudin.
Closeup on rock face texture.
A dyke is intruded into the granodioritic gneiss in the Corrigin Tectonic Zone at Posselts Cutting. The dyke has started to melt and recrystallised with rounded blocks.

If you want to learn more or see these amazing rocks of the southwest Yilgarn Craton for yourself, keep your eyes peeled for the field guide being compiled by Raphael Quentin de Gromard and Tim J Ivanic and the outcomes of Cat Gill’s (very exciting) PhD work. Thanks to the organisers and leaders of the trip for showing us the incredible rocks and unravelling the stories they tell us of Earth’s distant past.


Field guide for the pre-conference field trip of the AESC conference. Redefining Archean terrane boundaries in the southwest Yilgarn Craton. Compiled by R Quentin de Gromard and TJ Ivanic, Perth 2023.



Last updated:
10 July 2023