Geoscience Australia

Canberra, Australia

Geoscience Australia

Canberra, Australia

Geoscience Australia is an agency of the Australian federal government. It carries out geoscientific research. On a user pays basis it produces geospatial products such as topographic maps and satellite imagery. Wikipedia.

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News Article | July 19, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

An undated supplied image from Geoscience Australia shows a computer generated three-dimensional view of the sea floor obtained from mapping data collected during the first phase of the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia)/Handout via REUTERS SYDNEY (Reuters) - Detailed sea-floor maps made during the unsuccessful search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, released by Australia on Wednesday, could help increase the knowledge of rich fisheries and the prehistoric movement of the earth's southern continents. The Indian Ocean search ended in January after covering a lonely stretch of open water where under-sea mountains larger than Mount Everest rise and a rift valley dotted with subsea volcanoes runs for hundreds of kilometers. The whereabouts of the plane, which vanished in March 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board, remains one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries. However, information gathered during painstaking surveys of some 120,000 sq km (46,000 sq miles) of the remote waters west of Australia should provide fishermen, oceanographers and geologists insight into the region in unprecedented detail, said Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia. "There are the locations of seamounts which will attract a lot of international deep sea fishermen to the area," Pattiaratchi told Reuters by phone. High-priced fish such as tuna, toothfish, orange roughy, alfonsino and trevally are known to gather near the seamounts, where plankton swirl in the currents. Pattiaratchi said the location of seamounts would also help model the impact of tsunamis, given undersea mountains help dissipate their destructive energy, and potentially change our understanding of the break-up of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. The data consists of three-dimensional models of undersea landforms as well as raw bathymetric survey information and drift analysis. It was published online by Geoscience Australia on Wednesday, with a further tranche due to be published next year. "To see this work come out of that tragedy that was MH370 is really quite astounding, they've taken it to a new level," said Martin Exel, a commercial deep-sea fisherman at Austral Fisheries who has fished in the area. "From a fishing perspective it would be valuable information - they've found whale bones and cables and a drum, it is incredible the resolution," he said, referring to the data. But the expense and difficulty of operating in such remote high seas made a rush to fill nets in the area unlikely, he said. Stuart Minchin, chief of Geoscience Australia's environmental geoscience division, said the remote search area was now among the most thoroughly mapped regions of the deep ocean on the planet. "It is estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of the world's oceans have been surveyed with the kind of technology used in the search for MH370," Minchin said. Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370's transponder before diverting it thousands of miles off course, out over the Indian Ocean. Various pieces of debris have been collected from Indian Ocean islands and Africa's east coast and at least three of them have been confirmed as coming from the missing Boeing 777. Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for the airliner but has said that would depend on finding "credible new evidence" about the plane's whereabouts. "No new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft and the underwater search remains suspended," Transport Minister Darren Chester said in a statement.


News Article | July 19, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Detailed ocean-floor maps made during the unsuccessful search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, released by Australia on Wednesday, could help increase the knowledge of rich fisheries and the prehistoric movement of the earth’s southern continents. The Indian Ocean search ended in January after covering a lonely stretch of open water where undersea mountains larger than Mount Everest rise and a rift valley dotted with subsea volcanoes runs hundreds of kilometres long. The whereabouts of the plane, which vanished in March 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board, remains one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries. However, information gathered during painstaking surveys of some 120,000 sq km (46,000 sq miles) of the remote waters west of Australia should provide fishermen, oceanographers and geologists with insight into the region in unprecedented detail, said Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia. “There are the locations of seamounts which will attract a lot of international deep-sea fishermen to the area,” Pattiaratchi told Reuters. High-priced fish such as tuna, toothfish, orange roughy, alfonsino and trevally are known to gather near the seamounts, where plankton swirl in the currents in the inhospitable waters. Pattiaratchi said the location of seamounts would also help model the impact of tsunamis in the region, given undersea mountains help dissipate their destructive energy, and potentially change our understanding of the break-up of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. The data consists of three-dimensional models of undersea landforms as well as raw bathymetric survey information. It was published online by Geoscience Australia on Wednesday, with a further tranche due to be published next year. “It is estimated that only 10% to 15% of the world’s oceans have been surveyed with the kind of technology used in the search for MH370, making this remote part of the Indian Ocean among the most thoroughly mapped regions of the deep ocean on the planet,” said Stuart Minchin, chief of Geoscience Australia’s environmental geoscience division. Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for the Boeing 777 airliner but has said that would depend on finding “credible new evidence” about the plane’s whereabouts. “No new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft and the underwater search remains suspended,” Australian transport minister Darren Chester said in a statement on Wednesday.


News Article | July 19, 2017
Site: www.reuters.com

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Detailed sea-floor maps made during the unsuccessful search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, released by Australia on Wednesday, could help increase the knowledge of rich fisheries and the prehistoric movement of the earth's southern continents. The Indian Ocean search ended in January after covering a lonely stretch of open water where under-sea mountains larger than Mount Everest rise and a rift valley dotted with subsea volcanoes runs for hundreds of kilometers. The whereabouts of the plane, which vanished in March 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board, remains one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries. However, information gathered during painstaking surveys of some 120,000 sq km (46,000 sq miles) of the remote waters west of Australia should provide fishermen, oceanographers and geologists insight into the region in unprecedented detail, said Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia. "There are the locations of seamounts which will attract a lot of international deep sea fishermen to the area," Pattiaratchi told Reuters by phone. High-priced fish such as tuna, toothfish, orange roughy, alfonsino and trevally are known to gather near the seamounts, where plankton swirl in the currents. Pattiaratchi said the location of seamounts would also help model the impact of tsunamis, given undersea mountains help dissipate their destructive energy, and potentially change our understanding of the break-up of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. For a graphic on MH370 search, click here The data consists of three-dimensional models of undersea landforms as well as raw bathymetric survey information and drift analysis. It was published online by Geoscience Australia on Wednesday, with a further tranche due to be published next year. "To see this work come out of that tragedy that was MH370 is really quite astounding, they've taken it to a new level," said Martin Exel, a commercial deep-sea fisherman at Austral Fisheries who has fished in the area. "From a fishing perspective it would be valuable information - they've found whale bones and cables and a drum, it is incredible the resolution," he said, referring to the data. But the expense and difficulty of operating in such remote high seas made a rush to fill nets in the area unlikely, he said. Stuart Minchin, chief of Geoscience Australia's environmental geoscience division, said the remote search area was now among the most thoroughly mapped regions of the deep ocean on the planet. "It is estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of the world's oceans have been surveyed with the kind of technology used in the search for MH370," Minchin said. Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370's transponder before diverting it thousands of miles off course, out over the Indian Ocean. Various pieces of debris have been collected from Indian Ocean islands and Africa's east coast and at least three of them have been confirmed as coming from the missing Boeing 777. Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for the airliner but has said that would depend on finding "credible new evidence" about the plane's whereabouts. "No new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft and the underwater search remains suspended," Transport Minister Darren Chester said in a statement.


News Article | July 19, 2017
Site: www.reuters.com

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Detailed sea-floor maps made during the unsuccessful search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, released by Australia on Wednesday, could help increase the knowledge of rich fisheries and the prehistoric movement of the earth's southern continents. The Indian Ocean search ended in January after covering a lonely stretch of open water where under-sea mountains larger than Mount Everest rise and a rift valley dotted with subsea volcanoes runs for hundreds of kilometers. The whereabouts of the plane, which vanished in March 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board, remains one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries. However, information gathered during painstaking surveys of some 120,000 sq km (46,000 sq miles) of the remote waters west of Australia should provide fishermen, oceanographers and geologists insight into the region in unprecedented detail, said Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia. "There are the locations of seamounts which will attract a lot of international deep sea fishermen to the area," Pattiaratchi told Reuters by phone. High-priced fish such as tuna, toothfish, orange roughy, alfonsino and trevally are known to gather near the seamounts, where plankton swirl in the currents. Pattiaratchi said the location of seamounts would also help model the impact of tsunamis, given undersea mountains help dissipate their destructive energy, and potentially change our understanding of the break-up of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. For a graphic on MH370 search, click here The data consists of three-dimensional models of undersea landforms as well as raw bathymetric survey information and drift analysis. It was published online by Geoscience Australia on Wednesday, with a further tranche due to be published next year. "To see this work come out of that tragedy that was MH370 is really quite astounding, they've taken it to a new level," said Martin Exel, a commercial deep-sea fisherman at Austral Fisheries who has fished in the area. "From a fishing perspective it would be valuable information - they've found whale bones and cables and a drum, it is incredible the resolution," he said, referring to the data. But the expense and difficulty of operating in such remote high seas made a rush to fill nets in the area unlikely, he said. Stuart Minchin, chief of Geoscience Australia's environmental geoscience division, said the remote search area was now among the most thoroughly mapped regions of the deep ocean on the planet. "It is estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of the world's oceans have been surveyed with the kind of technology used in the search for MH370," Minchin said. Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370's transponder before diverting it thousands of miles off course, out over the Indian Ocean. Various pieces of debris have been collected from Indian Ocean islands and Africa's east coast and at least three of them have been confirmed as coming from the missing Boeing 777. Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for the airliner but has said that would depend on finding "credible new evidence" about the plane's whereabouts. "No new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft and the underwater search remains suspended," Transport Minister Darren Chester said in a statement.


News Article | July 20, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Crew members looking out the cockpit windows of a RNZAF P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean (AFP Photo/Nick Perry) Sydney (AFP) - The painstaking search for missing flight MH370 has uncovered a previously unknown undersea world of volcanoes, deep valleys and soaring ridges, according to detailed maps released by Australia. Although no trace of the Malaysia Airlines plane was found during the search in the southern Indian Ocean -- the most expensive ever of its kind -- large volumes of data showing a detailed picture of the sea floor had to be collected to guide the probe. Scientists are hopeful the new maps will give their community greater insight into oceans. "It is estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of the world's oceans have been surveyed with the kind of technology used in the search for MH370," Geoscience Australia's environmental geoscience chief Stuart Minchin said late Wednesday. "(That makes) this remote part of the Indian Ocean among the most thoroughly mapped regions of the deep ocean on the planet. "So this data is unique both because of the remote location of the search area, and because of the sheer scale of the area surveyed." Minchin said the maps would also be useful for future scientific research, such as oceanographic and habitat modelling. Australia, Malaysia and China suspended the deep sea hunt in January, almost three years after the Boeing 777 disappeared with 239 people on board. The hunt -- based on satellite analysis of the jet's likely trajectory after it diverted from its flight path -- covered a 120,000 square-kilometre (46,000 square mile) designated zone, an area slightly smaller than England. Two shipwrecks were discovered during the search but no trace of the plane, deepening one the most enduring mysteries of the aviation age. However, the data revealed ridges six kilometres (3.73 miles) wide and 15 kilometres long that rise 1,500 metres above the sea floor, as well as fault valleys 1,200 metres deep and five kilometres wide. A second set of data will be released in mid-2018. While the search for the missing plane has been called off, Canberra has said it could be restarted if new evidence about the specific location of the aircraft emerges. "We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located," Australia's Transport Minister Darren Chester said. Australia's national science body CSIRO released a report in April confirming that MH370 was "most likely" north of the former search zone. Three fragments from the plane have been recovered washed up on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon found on La Reunion island. Speculation on the cause of the plane's disappearance has focused primarily on possible hijacking, rogue pilot action or mechanical failure, but nothing has yet been proved.


News Article | June 2, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

From checking water levels in far-flung dams to making sure the sheep aren’t wrecking the paddock, Australian farmers sometimes find themselves needing to be everywhere at once – and, thanks to the latest satellite analysis capabilities, soon they could be. In May, the Turnbull government allocated $15.3m over two years to deliver Digital Earth Australia, a free open-access set of products (a beta model is currently accessible) that account for complex variations in the atmosphere, sun position and view angle to deliver precise, continually updated imagery into the hands of the public. Developed by Geoscience Australia in coordination with the CSIRO and the National Computational Infrastructure, the project will for the first time provide open access to three decades of historical satellite data captured every two weeks at 25-metre squared resolution, with future images to provide detail down to every 10 square metres of Australia updated every five days. The project will offer datasets including the normalised difference vegetation index and fractional cover to help paint a picture of changes to vegetation, an intertidal extents model that provides a picture of changes to tidal patterns and coastlines, and water observations from space that monitor rivers, lakes, dams and flooding. Geoscience Australia’s environmental geoscience division chief, Dr Stuart Minchin, says that, along with the mining sector and environmental studies, agriculture would particularly benefit from world-leading landscape monitoring capabilities, citing the popularity of the technology in an Australia-wide trial. By the conclusion of the NRM Spatial Hub study last year, farmers on 300 properties covering an area of more than 50 million hectares were using satellite data to analyse the vegetation condition of their properties to see where feed was available and not being used, and move water points accordingly to encourage livestock to migrate to those areas. A survey of those involved found 95% of users thought the technology had the potential to measurably improve the productivity and sustainability of their property. “Over 70% of the graziers involved in the trial said they believed the technology would increase their sustainable carry capacity, and it can now be rolled out to every grazier in the country,” Minchin says. He also notes that the technology is also able to monitor how quickly crops are drying out, allowing farmers to adjust schedules for water and fertiliser application across large areas accordingly. Minchin adds that flood risk could be counteracted by providing farmers with information about which specific paddocks or buildings are likely to become inundated based on weather forecasts combined with analysis of past flood levels. He says insurance companies are also interested in using satellite-based indexes on drought to provide insurance to farms, so if they get to certain levels of dryness they get a payout regardless of whether government declares drought. Dr Graeme Kernich, the deputy chief executive of the part government funded CRCSI research group, says his organisation was involved in some of the early phases of development of the project and is pleased with how it has developed. “We are road-mapping it now and intend to serve as a conduit for local industry, helping them identify low-hanging fruit which can be addressed by this technology,” he says. In developing a continually evolving picture of countrywide vegetation cover, water supplies, coastal erosion and the impacts of flood and drought, the technology also has significant potential to analyse the biggest threat to Australian farmers – climate change, which is already reducing farm productivity and potential wheat yields. Australian National University paleoclimate scientist Andrew Glikson says the federal government generally “did not want to accept the reality of climate science” but that the Digital Earth Australia product line it is funding should in any case “greatly improve detailed real-time monitoring of Australia’s landscape conditions, water resources, pasture and natural vegetation environments, as a function of changing climate conditions, with major contributions to research by government authorities, CSIRO, BOM, universities and the agricultural and mining sectors”. Despite its potential, the capability to contribute to climate change research is not mentioned in the original project funding announcement by the resources minister, Matthew Canavan, nor in a Geoscience Australia site explaining the benefits of the project. Canavan, who last year expressed “uncertainty” about climate change, told the Guardian in a statement that his announcement “provided examples of some of the practical uses of Digital Earth Australia, not a list of its limitations” and that he expects the technology “will have a wide range of applications, including information about climate change”. For Geoscience Australia’s part, Minchin says the project has applicability in areas such as the monitoring of carbon farming initiatives but that climate change is not a “core focus” of the project, which he says focuses more on ways to help business productivity. The University of Melbourne director of Centre for Spatial Data Infrastructures and Land Administration, Prof Abbas Rajabifard, says the applicability of the project to climate change depends in the end on “the authorities setting up the standardised protocols and specification for the development of analytical tools and applications”.


News Article | August 16, 2017
Site: phys.org

But the Australian Transport Safety Bureau cautioned that the drift analysis by Australian science agency CSIRO is based on French satellite images of "probably man-made" floating objects without evidence that they were from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Still, the locations could provide potential starting points to search within a 25,000-square-kilometer (9,700-square-mile) expanse identified by a panel of experts in November as the most likely resting place of the Boeing 777 and the 239 passengers and crew on board. That expanse adjoins the original search zone far southwest of Australia that was identified through satellite analysis of the final hours of the flight, which apparently ended when the plane ran out of fuel. Malaysia, China and Australia agreed to suspend the deep-sea sonar search in January after 120,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) of seabed were combed without finding any trace of Flight 370. The new analysis is based on French military satellite images gathered on March 23, 2014—two weeks after Flight 370 mysteriously veered far off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing—that were taken near the original underwater search zone. The Australian bureau took over the search for Flight 370 from Malaysia a week later. Satellite experts at Geoscience Australia were not asked to analyze the images until March this year. The experts concluded that a dozen objects appeared to be man-made. CSIRO then investigated where the objects might have originated before drifting for two weeks. CSIRO identified three potential crash sites—35.6 degrees S, 92.8 degrees E; 34.7 degrees S, 92.6 degrees E and 35.3 degrees S, 91.8 degrees E. "So that is a way of potentially narrowing down the search area with the very important caveat that, of course, we can't be totally sure that those objects seen in the images are actual pieces of plane," CSIRO oceanographer David Griffin said. "This might be a really good clue. It might be a red herring. But if you are going to search, then you'd be silly to ignore this potential clue," he added. The Australian bureau's chief commissioner, Greg Hood, said in a statement, "Clearly we must be cautious" of the lack a definite link to Flight 370. Malaysian Deputy Transport Minister Aziz Kaprawi said the civil aviation department would need to evaluate the data since it's based on satellite images from a few years ago. "We will need to verify the data to see if it's credible before we make any decision," Aziz told The Associated Press. Malaysia, China and Australia have decided that the search will remain suspended unless new evidence pinpoints the wreckage's whereabouts. But seabed exploration company Ocean Infinity, based in Houston, Texas, said last week it has offered to launch a private search for the Malaysian-registered airliner. Voice370, a support group for victim's families, said under the terms of the offer made to Malaysia in April, Ocean Infinity "would like to be paid a reward if and only if it finds the main debris field." They urged Malaysia to accept the offer. Aziz said Wednesday that the offer was still being negotiated. He said there were some other "monetary terms" set by the firm that were unacceptable to the government. "There are three categories of findings in the offer. The terms are a bit ambiguous," Aziz said. "The government wants the terms to be transparent and clear." He declined to give details. Explore further: Drift analysis says MH370 likely crashed north of search


Leonard M.,Geoscience Australia
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America | Year: 2010

In this paper, I propose the scaling relation W = C 1L β (where [β ≈ 2/3) to describe the scaling of rupture width with rupture length. I also propose a new displacement relation D̄ = C 2√A, where A is the area (LW). By substituting these equations into the definition of seismic moment (M 0 =μDLW), I have developed a series of self-consistent equations that describe the scaling between seismic moment, rupture area, length, width, and average displacement. In addition to β, the equations have only two variables, C 1 and C 2, which have been estimated empirically for different tectonic settings. The relations predict linear log-log relationships, the slope of which depends only on β. These new scaling relations, unlike previous relations, are self-consistent, in that they enable moment, rupture length, width, area, and displacement to be estimated from each other and with these estimates all being consistent with the definition of seismic moment. I interpret C 1 as depending on the size at which a rupture transitions from having a constant aspect ratio to following a power law and C 1 as depending on the displacement per unit area of fault rupture and so static stress drop. It is likely that these variables differ between tectonic environments; this might explain much of the scatter in the empirical data. I suggest that these relations apply to all faults. For small earthquakes (M < ~5)β=1, in which case L 3 fault scaling applies. For larger (M > ~5) earthquakes β 2=3, so L 2.5 applies. For dip-slip earthquakes this scaling applies up to the largest events. For very large (M >~7.2) strike-slip earthquakes, which are fault widthlimited, β = 0 and assuming D ∞ √A, then L 1.5 scaling applies. In all cases, M 0 ∞ A 1.5 fault scaling applies.


Physical disturbances of the seafloor play a key role in ecosystem function and are postulated to exert control over spatial patterns of biodiversity. This review investigates the role of natural physical sedimentological processes that occur in shelf, slope and abyssal environments that also act as disturbances to benthic ecosystems and which, under certain circumstances, give rise to benthic disturbance regimes. Physical sedimentological processes can cause both press (process that causes a disturbance by acting over a timespan that is intolerable to benthos) and pulse (process that causes a disturbance by exceeding a threshold above which benthos are unable to remain attached to the seabed or are buried under rapidly deposited sediment) types of disturbance. On the continental shelf, pulse-type disturbances are due to temperate and tropical storm events, and press-type of disturbances identified here are due to the migration of bedforms and other sand bodies, and sustained periods of elevated turbidity caused by seasonally reversing wind patterns. On the continental slope and at abyssal depths, pulse-type disturbances are due to slumps, turbidity currents; benthic storms may cause either press or pulse type disturbances. A possible press-type of disturbance identified here is inter-annual changes in abyssal bottom current speed and/or direction. It is concluded that: 1) physical sedimentary disturbance regimes may characterize as much as 10% of the global ocean floor; 2) multidisciplinary research programs that integrate oceanography, sedimentology and benthic ecology to collect time series observational data sets are needed to study disturbance regimes; and 3) predictive habitat suitability modeling must include disturbance regime concepts, along with other biophysical variables that define the fundamental niches of marine species, in order to advance. © 2014.


Weathering intensity largely controls the degree to which primary minerals are altered to secondary components including clay minerals and oxides. As weathering intensity increases there are changes in the hydrological, geochemical and geophysical characteristics of the regolith. Thus, once calibrated, weathering intensity can be used to predict a range of regolith properties. A weathering intensity index (WII) over the Australian continent has been developed at a 100. m resolution using regression models based on airborne gamma-ray spectrometry imagery and the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) elevation data. Airborne gamma-ray spectrometry measures the concentration of three radioelements - potassium (K), thorium (Th) and uranium (U) at the Earth's surface. The total gamma-ray flux (dose) is also calculated based on the weighted additions of the three radioelements. Regolith accounts for over 85% of the Australian land area and has a major influence in determining the composition of surface materials and in controlling hydrological and geomorphological processes. The weathering intensity prediction is based on the integration of two regression models. The first uses relief over landscapes with low gamma-ray emissions and the second incorporates radioelement distributions and relief. The application of a stepwise forward multiple regression for the second model generated a weathering intensity index equation of: WII = 6.751 + - 0.851 * K + - 1.319 * Relief + 2.682 * Th/K + - 2.590 * Dose. The WII has been developed for erosional landscapes but also has the potential to inform on deposition processes and materials. The WII correlates well with site based geochemical indices and existing regolith mapping. Interpretation of the WII from regional to local scales and its application in providing more reliable and spatially explicit information on regolith properties are described. © 2012.

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