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Research Projects at RSES Research Projects at RSES
Cosmic Collisions on the Moon
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Supervisor:Bennett, Victoria Norman, Marc
Subject keywords: Planetary studies, Geochemistry, Geology, Laboratory, Analytical
Degree types: Honours, M.Sc, PhD, Internships
Samples of moon rocks and regolith collected during the Apollo Missions as well as the lunar meteorites discovered on Earth allow us to study the origin and geology of the Moon directly. The most striking lunar features, clearly visible in the night sky are the large mare basins that formed when a rogue population of asteroids struck the Moon about 3.9 billion yars ago. We are using the chemistry of lunar impact melt rocks, in particular the concentrations of the highly siderophile platinum-group elements, to determine the types of asteroids that created these large (300-2500 km diameter) impact basins. This in turn will tell us about the types of planetesimals traversing the inner solar system at that time, and likely hit the Earth as well. This is largely a laboratory based project (no field work planned right now) and requires a person who wants to learn leading-edge chemical techniques, is a good observer with excellent attention to detail, and thinks big picture. This is just one of many potential projects working on lunar samples. Contact us for more information.
Next Gen Tin: A new look at tin metallogeny in eastern Australia
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Supervisor:Norman, Marc
Subject keywords: Geochronology (dating), Economic and Structural Geology, Petrology, Geochemistry, Laboratory, Analytical
Degree types: PhD, Summer Scholar Projects,
Global shortages in the supply of tin have seen renewed interest in Australian deposits. This project aims to improve our understanding of the timing and origins of eastern Australian tin deposits by measuring the ages and geochemical characteristics of the primary tin mineral cassiterite from key localities in New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania. We aim to apply a new and innovative approach through the application of U-Pb geochronology, oxygen isotope fluid tracing, and trace element fingerprinting of cassiterite, and assess the fertility of hydrothermal and magmatic tin systems for a range of new technology commodities, including tantalum, niobium, indium and rare earth elements.

Support for this project is available through the NSW Department of Industry and Investment, in collaboration with Dr. Phil Blevin.
The student will characterise the petrology of cassiterite occurrences and measure the geochemical and isotopic compositions to understand the ages and origins of these deposits.

Photographer: David Barnes (DTIRIS)

Meteorite impacts and volcanic fire-fountains on the Moon
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Supervisor:Norman, Marc
Subject keywords: Planetary studies,Geochemistry,Laboratory,Analytical,
Degree types: PhD,
Lunar soils carry a remarkable record of volcanic eruptions and meteorite impacts that occurred on the Moon over the past four billion years. These events can be studied by analysing small fragments of volcanic and impact glass found in the lunar soils. For this project you will measure 39Ar-40Ar ages and chemical compositions of individual glass beads from lunar regolith collected at each of the six Apollo landing sites. This will allow us to distinguish volcanic from impact events and evaluate the efficiency of sediment transport on the Moon. This project will position you well to participate in the upcoming decade of international space exploration and resource utilisation on the Moon and Mars. The project will suit someone with an interest in planetary science, a good knowledge of basic geochemistry, and a steady hand. The image shows a picture of moon rock 67016. It is an impact breccia that was collected at the Apollo 16 landing site. Contact for further information.
Groundwater and Surface Water Geochemistry
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Supervisor:McPhail, Bear Norman, Marc
Subject keywords: Environmental Geoscience, Geochemistry, Laboratory, Analytical
Degree types: , Summer Scholar Projects
Groundwater is a vital water resource in Australia, and the world, and understanding the dynamics of recharge from and discharge to surface waterways is necessary for using our water resources wisely. At ANU, we are developing hydrogeochemical methods to understand groundwater dynamics, including interactions between aquifer waters, surface water and groundwater. At present we focus our studies in the Lower Murrumbidgee catchment of New South Wales. There are a number of possible projects for a summer scholarship, such as interpreting element and isotope compositions of the Lower Murrumbidgee River and related groundwater, measuring the mineralogy and cation exchange capacities of aquifer and aquitard materials and interpreting the impact on groundwater compositions, and assisting in the development of new analytical methods for the geochemistry of water and regolith.

If you are interested in developing your interests and experience in groundwater and low-temperature geochemistry, please contact
The student will Be involved with the preparation and geochemical analysis of water and/or regolith samples to understand the mobility of major, minor and trace elements, including uranium, in groundwater environments. The student will also be involved with the interpretation and application of the results to bigger projects currently underway in groundwater dynamics and the fractionation of uranium isotopes.