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ASEG NSW - “Geophysics in the Park”: How can Industry support geophysics education?

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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

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Title: “Geophysics in the Park”: How can Industry support geophysics education? with presenter Dr James Daniell 

Date and time: Wednesday 20th September at 1800 AEST



On Wednesday 20th September, ASEG NSW brings a presentation on Mergers, cutbacks, and closures of geoscience departments in Australia have been well documented in the media. Outreach events supported by industry and intended for university students and young professionals can provide an opportunity for ongoing education, gaining practical experience, and networking opportunities with industry professionals. In August this year, Fender Geophysics hosted its second outreach event to demonstrate basic geophysical surveying techniques. ‘Geophysics in the Park’ was attended by 14 students, 2 industry professionals, 1 academic, and 1 work experience student. Attendees were shown how to deploy, acquire, and process electrical resistivity imaging and seismic refraction datasets.
Data was acquired in Tunks Park in Cremorne (north Sydney). Tunks Park was chosen primarily as it was known to be a site with ‘thick alluvium’ and likely more interesting than most of the other local parks that were assumed to have Hawkesbury Sandstone located in the shallow subsurface. Tunks Park turned out to be an interesting choice as the existing park was actually constructed as part of land reclamation project in the 1940’s. Historical aerial photos showed the presence of an estuarine mudflats and creek, and it was this creek that was targeted by the geophysical surveying. Unsurprisingly, the creek was imaged as a highly conductive feature within the resistivity data. The refraction data differentiated a boundary between some upper ‘landfill’ and lower sediments but didn’t not image the top of bedrock. 
Despite the geophysical data providing results that were to be expected, Geophysics in the Park provided an opportunity to demonstrate some basic geophysical techniques in an area with an interesting geological history. Students benefitted from gaining some hands-on experience and participated in data acquisition and processing. There is an unmet need for education, training and demonstrations of basic geophysical techniques that can easily be filled by industry. Demonstrations of geophysical techniques do not necessarily require remote field sites. Local parks and sports ovals can be interesting targets for geophysical surveys to demonstrate the various survey techniques. As well as changes in geology and soil, buried debris, services and structures may also be suitable survey targets.
James has spent most of his career undertaking marine geophysical research for James Cook University (2012-2020) and Geoscience Australia (2001-2012). His expertise includes oceanography, geomorphology, sedimentology, geophysics, remote sensing and GIS. However, his research has been focused on mapping the seabed using acoustics and seismic reflection to understand geological processes, oceanography, and the distribution of benthic habitats in both deep and shallow water environments. Geographically his research has focussed on Torres Strait the Great Barrier Reef, however, he has also published research from the Gulf of Papua, Northwest Shelf, Gulf of Carpentaria, and the Tasman Sea. He initially studied palaeontology for a BSc at Macquarie University and followed that up with a Masters in Geology and Geophysics. He completed his PhD through the University of Sydney in 2011.
He returned to Sydney in 2020 and is now a senior geophysicist for Fender Geophysics. He is working at developing a ‘near surface’ geophysics division at Fender which will focus on environmental, groundwater and infrastructure related project. He maintains some ongoing research at JCU and enjoys not marking any more exams.