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*NEW* 2016 Gibb Maitland Medal

Call for Nominations Now Open


The Gibb Maitland Medal is awarded by the Western Australia Division of the Geological Society of Australia in order to recognize individuals who have made substantial contributions to geoscience in Western Australia. It is named for Andrew Gibb Maitland, Government Geologist from 1896 to 1926, who established the Geological Survey of Western Australia. The Medal is usually awarded each year and nominations are now sought for the 2016 Gibb Maitland medallist.


2016 Gibb Maitland guidelines & nomination form download: MS Word doc


Nominations close Monday 30 November 2015 and the winner will be announced prior to the 2016 GSA-WA Annual Dinner.



West Australian Geologist (WAG)

Bi-monthly newsletter of the Western Australian Division of the Geological Society of Australia Inc.


Number 513: August  ̶  September 2015  (2.8 Mb PDF file)


Past Issues



Monthly Meetings

Time:  5.30 pm for 6.00 pm formal start (bar open upstairs before talk)

Venue:  Irish Club of WA, 61 Townshend Rd, Subiaco

Download a map showing the location, or check out the venue with Google Maps.





Wednesday 2nd September, 2015


Talk title:   First Footfall: Evidence from the Tumblagooda Sandstone for the Colonisation of Land


Speaker:   Dr Ken McNamara, Sedgwick Museum, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge


Abstract:   The colonisation of land and the establishment of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems was one of the most important events in the evolution of life. Yet we have a poor understanding of the identities of the colonisers, how they interacted with one another and even exactly when it happened. The early Palaeozoic Tumblagooda Sandstone in the Southern Carnarvon Basin in W.A. contains a rich trace fossil fauna that has the potential to shed much light on these questions. Deposited before vascular plants had evolved on land, the extensive fossil trackways and burrows comprise a range of trace fossils attributed mainly to arthropods, but their exact identity remains enigmatic.


Until recently the age of this sandstone had been poorly constrained, with suggestions ranging from Cambrian to Devonian. However, a recent review has adopted a novel approach to date these sediments, by correlating them with the uplift of the mountain systems that generated the sediments, narrowing the age early-mid Silurian (about 430 million years). The arthropod tracks range in size from a few millimetres to more than 30cm in width; some extend for many metres. These larger forms must have been made by animals well in excess of 1 metre in length. Candidates for these first colonizers include the scorpion-like eurypterids, euthycarcinoids and synziphosurids.


A number of different types of burrows have been described that have been interpreted as dwelling, feeding and hunting burrows. Study of the associations of different burrow types is enabling the trophic structure of this early terrestrial ecosystem to be established. Finally, in this talk I will also describe how the Tumblagooda Sandstone provides evidence for oldest known land animal and the earliest evidence for the presence of vertebrates on land.


About the speaker:   Professor Ken McNamara is the Director of the Sedgwick Museum and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, where he has been for five years. Prior to this he was Senior Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology at the Western Australian Museum for nearly 30 years, and remains an Adjunct Professor of Palaeontology in the Department of Applied Geology, at Curtin University.


The underlying thread running through much of his research is the relationship between evolution and development, with particular reference to the fossil record. He is a well-recognised expert on trilobites and their evolutionary patterns, and his taxonomic research has resulted in the description of at least 69 new species and 13 new genera of invertebrates.


He has written, co-written or edited a number of books, including 'The Star-Crossed Stone' (2010); 'Prehistoric Mammals of Western Australia' (2010); 'Australia's Meteorite Craters' (2009); Pinnacles' (2009); 'Stromatolites' (2009); 'The Evolution Revolution' (2007); 'Human Evolution and Developmental Change' (2002); 'Ancient Floras of Western Australia' (2001); 'Shapes of Time: the Evolution of Growth and Development' (1997); 'Evolutionary Change and Heterochrony' (1995); 'Heterochrony: the Evolution of Ontogeny' (1991).


Ken graduated from the University of Aberdeen, and obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 2006 he received the AAS Mawson Medal, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to earth science in Australia.



Wednesday 7th October, 2015


Talk title:   Fluid-rock interaction – a major rock-forming process in the Earth’s crust


Speaker:   Dr Andrew Putnis, Director, The Institute for Geoscience Research (TIGeR), Curtin University


Abstract:   Aqueous fluids play a major role in the evolution of the Earth’s lithosphere and through metamorphic and metasomatic reactions produce profound changes in mineralogy, density and rheology. These changes are coupled to large-scale geodynamic processes and control the geochemical cycles of a large number of elements.


Where free fluids are available, for example during the progressive burial and dehydration of sedimentary rocks, there is likely to be a direct relationship between mineral reactions and increases in pressure and temperature and the equilibrium paradigm may adequately describe many aspects of such prograde metamorphism. However, much of the Earth’s middle and lower crust and upper mantle do not contain free fluids. Increasing evidence suggests that such rocks are in a stressed state at temperatures below the stability field of the constituent minerals. Such mechanically strong, dry metastable rocks may persist indefinitely in the absence of a fluid phase and are responsible for enabling large topographic features such as the Himalaya to exist.


However, when these rocks are exposed to externally derived fluids, metamorphism takes place far from equilibrium and mineral reactions and deformation are mechanisms for dissipation of this stored energy. The rate and progress of such retrograde metamorphism is dependent on the availability of fluids, rather than variations in pressure and temperature, and cannot adequately be described using equilibrium models. In this talk examples of these phenomena and the feedbacks between fluid infiltration, mineral reactions and deformation mechanisms will be discussed using examples from western Norway.


About the speaker:   Andrew joined Curtin in 2015 as Director of The Institute for Geoscience Research (TIGeR). He has Bachelors degrees from the University of Newcastle (Physics) and from the University of London (Geology) and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Between 1981 and 1995 he was a Lecturer in Earth Sciences in the University of Cambridge, and from 1995 until 2014 was Professor of Mineralogy at the University of Münster, Germany.



GSA-WA Student Bursary


The GSA-WA offers bursaries to assist students in their studies and research.


Up to $1000 can be granted for any meritorious project, for 1 or several students, such as field trips, for laboratory costs, for travel costs or conferences.


Applications close 31 March and 30 September each year.


View the flyer for further information and complete the application form to submit a nomination.


Bursary Flyer download: PDF doc

Bursary Application Conditions download: MS Word doc

Bursary Application Form download: MS Word doc



2014 GSA-WA Division AGM Minutes

The GSA-WA Division 2014 Annual General Meeting was held at the Irish Club, Subiaco on Wednesday 2 April 2014.

Click here to download the 2014 AGM Minutes (598 Kb PDF)




Last modified: 25 August 2015
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