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New Article in Nature Communications

New article, Reproducible flaws unveil electrostatic aspects of semiconductor electrochemistry in Nature Communications.



Wavelength Newsletter May 2017

Welcome to the first edition of Wavelength – A quarterly newsletter dedicated to highlighting the latest news and research produced from Curtin’s X-ray characterisation facilities, namely the X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) facilities. As a special first edition feature, we have included an entire page that highlights the basic instrument capabilities of each facility.

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New Laser Tool Reveals Helium Secrets

Curtin University researchers have for the first time been able to visualise where helium atoms are trapped within individual mineral grains, providing information that can help to determine the geological history of the Earth’s crust and assist in monitoring natural hazards like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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Geoscience Atom Probe Website

For more information on current and featured projects, visit the Geoscience Atom Probe Website.

Automated Mineralogy Workshop

A workshop was hosted by Curtin University and sponsored by AXT Pty Ltd on the 6th November to demonstrate the application and benefits of automated mineralogy to the minerals industry and academic research. Around 35 people from various research institutions, service providers and the mining industry attended the workshop from across Australia. The day started with a tour of the John de Laeter Centre (JdLC) facilities incorporating the Tescan integrated mineral analyser (TIMA), which was the key instrument of relevance to the workshop. Dr Mark Aylmore, recently appointed to take on the role of Applied Mineralogist in the JdLC, chaired the workshop that included presentations from:

  • Dr Kamran Khajehpour (AXT), who gave an overview of automated mineralogy and supported by Esben Kjaer (Struers) who gave a brief overview on sample preparation techniques.
  • Prof Brent McInnes (Curtin JdLC), who demonstrated the applications of the TIMA to Archeology, Petrology, Geochemical Mapping, and the Characterisation of Mineral & Petroleum Systems.
  • Kellie Jones (Northparkes Mines), who discussed the application of the TIMA to mining and mineral processing at the Northparkes Cu-Au operation.
  • Marek Dosbaba (Tescan Orsay Holding), who reviewed the workflow of the TIMA software.
  • Paul Gottlieb (Tescan Orsay Holding), who summarised the recent technological and software developments at Tescan and discussed future challenges for the TIMA and automated mineralogy.

Thanks to all at Curtin and AXT staff who were involved in the workshop. Special thanks goes to Petrina Beeton who organised the venue, catering and parking. With the success of this function it is anticipated further workshops on automated mineralogy will be held on an annual basis.

Breakthrough Mineral Discovery

A team of Curtin University geoscientists has discovered the earliest known occurrence of reidite, one of Earth’s rarest minerals.  At 1.2 billion years, the finding is more than double the age of the previous oldest known occurrence at 450 million years.

Working with the University of St Andrews, the team, led by Professor Steven Reddy from the Institute for Geoscience Research at Curtin’s Western Australian School of Mines, discovered the reidite in shocked zircon from impact ejecta at Stac Fada in Scotland. He said reidite is important because it is only known to form in nature during meteorite impact events.

“The discovery of this Precambrian occurrence indicates the potential for using the presence of reidite to indicate and record very ancient impact events,” Professor Reddy said.

“It is a breakthrough discovery that will help determine terrestrial impact events which have had a profound influence on Earth’s geological, geochemical and biological evolution.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Development Professor Graeme Wright said Curtin is at the forefront of high-impact research and development in minerals and energy sectors.

“In recent years our research activity, particularly in geosciences, has grown significantly, driving Curtin’s rapid rise up the international university rankings,” Professor Wright said.

All natural occurrences of reidite are associated with the transformation of the mineral zircon during the high pressures and temperatures associated with meteorite impact events. However, the record of Precambrian impacts is poorly constrained due to the dynamic nature of plate tectonics, erosion and deposition of younger rocks, which may destroy or cover the evidence of ancient impacts.

The reidite was discovered using advanced mineral characterisation technologies housed in the John De Laeter Centre (JdLC) at Curtin University. Professor Reddy used a technique called electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) to effectively discriminate between reidite and its compositionally identical host zircon.

The discovery paves the way for developing reidite as a proxy for meteorite impact events that can be extended back in geological time to provide insights into Earth’s early impact record.

Professor Reddy’s discovery has been published in the prestigious Geology journal and can be viewed online.

Read the Curtin Media Release

WA-OIG Highlighted Publications

Ancient molecules entombed in rock: ARC Archway Magasine Feature article

Publications related to this article.

  1. Grice K, Cao C, Love GD, Bottcher ME, Twitchett R, Grosjean E, Summons R, Turgeon S, Dunning WJ, Jin Y, 2005. Photic Zone Euxinia During the Permian-Triassic Superanoxic Event. Science. 307,706-709.
  2. B. Nabbefeld, K. Grice, R.J.Twitchett, R.E. Summons, L. Hays, M.E. Böttcher, A. Muhammad, 2010. An integrated biomarker, isotopic and palaeoenvironmental study through the Late Permian event at Lusitaniadalen. Spitsbergen Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 291, 84-96.
  3. Melendez, I., Grice, K., Schwark, L., 2013. Exceptional preservation of palaeozoic steroids in a diagenetic continuum. Nature Scientific Reports. 3.
  4. Melendez, I., Grice, K., Trinajstic, K., Ladjavardi, M., Thompson, K., Greenwood, P.F., 2013. Biomarkers reveal the role of photic zone euxinia in exceptional fossil preservation: An organic geochemical perspective. Geology. 41, 123-126.
  5. Metcalfe, I., Nicholl, R.S., Willink, R., Ladjavardi, M., Grice, K., 2013. Early Triassic (Induan-Olenekian) conodont biostratigraphy, global anoxia, carbon isotope excursions and environmental perturbations: New data from Western Australian Gondwana. Gondwana Research. 23, 1136-1150.
  6. Tulipani, S., Grice, K., Greenwood, P.F., Schwark, L., Summons, R.E., Böttcher, M.E., and Foster, C.B., 2015. Molecular proxies as indicators of freshwater incursion-driven salinity stratification.Chemical Geology. 409, 61-68.
  7. Tulipani, S., Grice, K., Greenwood, P., Schwark, L., Haines, P.W., Sauer, P.E., Schimmelmann, A., Summons, R.E., Foster, C.B., Böttcher, M.E., Payton, T.D, and Schwark, L., 2015. Changes of palaeoenvironmental conditions recorded in Late Devonian reef systems from the Canning Basin, Western Australia: A biomarker and stable isotope approach. Gondwana Research. in press.

DMH Goldschmidt 2015 Poster

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Curious about our Digital Mineralogy Library?

Just scan the barcode with your smart phone!

Need a free QR scanner? IOS and Android.

Geochemistry Data Discovery Workshop

On the 8th July 2015, staff at the John de Laeter Centre (JdLC) hosted a two-hour workshop to discuss current and upcoming projects focused on geochemistry data discovery.

The audience comprised a score of people from around Australia with representatives present from Curtin University’s Office of Research and Development, Curtin University Library, CSIRO, ANDS, NCI, GSWA, MRIWA and AMMRF.

After delivering a presentation on their recently completed Digital Mineralogy Library project, the JdLC hosts invited their visitors to offer feedback and discuss opportunities for new projects to further assist researchers in managing and disseminating high-value geochemistry datasets.

The response was positive with many participants sharing their views on the importance of data management and discovery, and recognising the contribution that the JdLC has made in this area. Dr Lesley Wyborn (NCI) was “pleased to see the JdLC and the community making progress in achieving what [she] has been trying to achieve for the last 30 years in Australian Geochemistry Laboratories “.

JdLC is looking forward to expanding its data delivery services to include geochemistry data from its Sensitive High Resolution Ion Micro Probe (SHIMP) and laser ablation instruments in the future. Through collaborations with state and national organisations and businesses this project will see more data being made readily available to researchers, industry and the public. This will foster a richer scientific understanding of our country and promote new discoveries.

See poster for more about Digital Mineralogy Library.

* The Digital Mineralogy Library project is supported by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and AuScope through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy Program. The hardware component of the project was funded via the Australian Research Council with support from Curtin University, the Geological Survey of Western Australia, University of Western Australia and Murdoch University.

The project is being jointly run between the John de Laeter Centre, Curtin University Library and Curtin Information Technology Services.

SAXS New Publication

Tong, C. L., Eroglu, E., Duan, X., Lamb, R. N., Jarrett, K., Buckley, C. E., & Raston, C. L. (2015). Nitrate uptake using mesoporous silica embedded with zero-valent palladium nanoparticles. RSC Advances, 5(26), 20557-20561.

GHF Highlighted Publications

  1. Kirkland, C.L., Smithies, H., Taylor, R., Evans, N.J., McDonald, B. 2015. Zircon Th/U ratios in magmatic environs. Lithos 212-215, 397-414.
  2. Taylor, R., Clark, C., Fitzsimons, I.C.W., Santosh, M., Hand, M., Evans, N.J. and McDonald, B. 2014. Post-peak, fluid-mediated modification of granulite facies zircon and monazite: an example from the Trivandrum Block, southern India. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, DOI 10.1007/s00410-014-1044-0.
  3. Doubliera, M.P., Thébaud, N., Wingate, M.T.D., Romano, S.S., Kirkland, C.L., Gessner, K., Moleb D.R., Evans N.J. 2014. Structural constraints on Neoarchean gold mineralization in the Southern Cross district (Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia) reveal leading role of late magmatic intrusions.Journal of Structural Geology, doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2014.02.009.
  4. Marillo-Sialer, E., Woodhead, J.D., Hergt, J., Greig, A. Guillong, M., Gleadow, A., Evans, N.J., Paton, C. 2014. The zircon ‘matrix effect’: evidence for an ablation rate control on the accuracy of U-Pb age determinations by LA-ICP-MS. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 29, 981-989. doi:10.1039/c4ja00008k.
  5. Evans, N.J., McInnes, B.I.A., McDonald, B.J., Danišík, M., Jourdan, F., Mayers, C., Thern, E. and Corbett, D. 2013. Emplacement age and thermal footprint of the diamondiferous Ellendale E9 lamproite pipe, Western Australia. Mineralium Deposita, 48, 413-421.
  6. Danišík, M., Ramanaidou, E.R., Evans, N.J., McDonald, B.J., Mayers, C. and McInnes, B.I.A. 2013. (U-Th)/He chronology of the Robe River channel iron deposits, Hamersley Province, Western Australia. Chemical Geology, 354, 150-162.
  7. Danišík, M., Shane, P., Schmitt, A.K., Hogg, A., Santos, G.M., Evans, N.J., Storm, S., Fifield, K., Alloway, B. and Lindsay, J., 2012. Re-anchoring the late Pleistocene tephrochronology of New Zealand based on concordant radiocarbon ages and combined 238U/230Th disequilibrium and (U-Th)/He zircon ages. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 349-350. 240-250.
  8. Schmitt, A.K., Danišík, M., Evans, N.J., Seibel, W., Kiemele, E., Aydin, F. and Harvey, J.C. 2011. Acigöl rhyolite field, Central Anatolia (Part 1): High-resolution dating of pre-eruptive zircon residence and rhyolite eruption episodes. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 62 (6) 1215-1231.
  9. Danišík, M., Pfaff, K., Evans, N.J., Manoloukos, C., Staude, S., McDonald, B.J., Markl, G. 2010. Tectonothermal history of the Schwarzwald Ore District (Germany): An apatite triple dating approach. Chemical Geology, 278 (1-2), 58-69.
  10. McInnes, B.I.A., Evans, N.J, McDonald, B.J., Kinny, P. and Jakimowicz, J. 2009. Zircon U-Th-Pb-He double dating of the Merlin kimberlite field, Northern Territory, Australia. Lithos, 112S, 592-599.
  11. McInnes, B.I.A., Evans, N.J., Fu, F.Q. and Garwin, S. 2005. Application of thermochronology to hydrothermal ore deposits. Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry 57 (13), 3149-3158.
  12. Evans, N.J., Byrne, J.P., Keegan, J.T. and Dotter, L.E. 2005. Determination of uranium and thorium in zircon, apatite and fluorite: Application to laser (U-Th)/He Thermochronology. Journal of Analytical Chemistry, v. 60/12, p. 1159-1165.


Plate Tectonics Reconstruction

Representative publications:

Extraterrestrial Geochronology & Geochemistry

Representative publications:

A Mineralogical and Geodata Library

The MMF is involved in the creation of the Digital Mineralogy Hub facility which is using cutting-edge scanning electron microscope technology to construct a mineralogical and geodata library for the Australian continent.
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Improving Geochronology for Precise Geohistory Determination

Representative publications:

Advanced Resource Characterisation Facility Project

We are currently involved in an exciting new project with CSIRO and UWA called the Advanced Resource Characterisation Facility which will bring new atom probe and ion beam technology to Western Australia.

The first major facility being developed under the auspices of the National Resource Sciences Precinct (NRSP) was announced by the Australian Government, in August. A $12.4 million grant, as part of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF), has been dedicated to the establishment of a new Advanced Resource Characterisation Facility (ARCF) in Perth. Building on existing infrastructure, the ARCF will draw together state-of-the-art equipment for geoscience and resource characterisation already available between the NRSP’s foundation partners, CSIRO, Curtin University and UWA, and establish three new world-class instruments to provide a global hub for ‘metre-to-atomic-scale’ analyses of rock cores. The total project value (including the SIEF grant) invested by the partners is $37.8 million over five years.

The new equipment includes a Maia Mapper (for core-scale chemical mapping) at ARRC, a nanoSIMS (secondary ion mass spectrometer, for sub-micron elemental and isotopic mapping) at UWA and a geoscience atom probe (for sub-nanoscale characterisation) at Curtin University. Combined with the partners’ existing equipment, and data management, processing and integration made possible by the Pawsey Centre supercomputer, the ARCF will provide a multiscale approach to the characterisation of geological materials unmatched anywhere in the world.

The nanoSIMS and geoscience atom probe are existing (albeit very rare) commercial instruments, and should be delivered, installed and commissioned within three years. In contrast the Maia Mapper, an x-ray microprobe elemental imaging system developed by CSIRO and Brookhaven National Laboratory, currently exists as a prototype model. It uses the Australian synchrotron’s x-ray fluorescence microprobe beamline to produce high definition, quantitative elemental images with microscopic detail in real time. CSIRO will be adapting the detector technology to a laboratory-scale x-ray source over the next three years, creating a routine-use instrument for high resolution x-ray microprobe imaging. Once operational, the laboratory-scale Maia Mapper will be able to create nanoscale elemental maps of a 2 × 1 cm rock sample in about six hours, providing enormous increases in sensitivity, detection limit and spatial resolution over conventional systems.

In bringing a unique and world-leading suite of characterisation facilities together, the ARCF will develop a collaborative and workflow approach to sample characterisation, allowing geoscientists to investigate drill core samples down to the atomic scale, without losing contextual information in the process. The facility will provide routine, multi-scale element mapping of large samples, through to atomic scale geochronology, integrated with compositional and textural information. Since complexity is inherent in drill core samples, with diverse structures and textures related to deposition and mineralogical variation at multiple scales, this ability will allow the true determination of the timing of fluid flow, fluid–rock interaction, metal deposition and reservoir diagenesis, within a complete geological context.

The richness of this information will further our understanding of the processes by which materials are transported and precipitated in geological systems, with fundamental implications for the mineral and petroleum exploration, mining and processing operations of the future.


Identifying Fertile, Primitive Geological Terranes Most Likely to Host Giant Ore Deposits

Representative publications:

Time Scale

Representative publications:

Recently Purchased ARGUS VI

The Facility recently acquired an ARGUS VI (Thermofisher), a new generation low volume Multiple Collector Noble Gas Mass Spectrometers (MC-NG-MS) equipped with 5 faraday cups and one CDD multiplier that has recently become commercially available, offering three advantages.

Their first advantage is a better sensitivity of the new generation of CDD electron multipliers and 1012-ohm resistor faraday collectors. This allows the measurement of a larger dynamic range of Ar ion beam signal on much smaller (and thus likely purer) and younger sample aliquots.

Their second advantage is the ability to measure the 36Ar on the CDD multiplier while other masses are measured on the faraday detectors, resulting in analytical precision one order of magnitude better than with previous generation instruments.

Their third advantage is much faster sample analysis (i.e., 30-35 analyses/day compared to the current 10-12 analyses/day for single collector instruments.

A new dedicated low volume Noble Gas extraction line capable of collecting and cleaning the gas extracted from a variety of samples, using a PhotonMachine CO2 laser capable of delivering a homogenous laser beam of up to 6mm wide, is attached to the ARGUS VI mass spectrometer.


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WAAIF Featured Fields of Research

Timing of large (and small) igneous provinces (e.g., Karoo-Ferrar, Kalkarindji, Deccan, Ethiopia-Yemen, Newer volcanic province).

Timing of impact crater and structure formations (e.g., Siljan, Popigai)

Thermochronology of basaltic achondritic and chondritic meteorites and particles from asteroid Itokawa (impact history, eruption age, exposure to cosmic ray bombardment).

Technique development (e.g. the terrestrial 38Ar cosmogenic dating technique).

Geochronology Technique Development

Representative publications:


Overview of WA-OIG Facility

Visit WA-OIGC Website

RE-OS Pilot Study of Western Australian Oil

Direct dating of the timing of oil generation and that of its source rock is crucial for petroleum exploration. Accurate chronology of oil generation and migration in a petroleum basin can provide essential information for reliable petroleum resource evaluation, reserve calculation and predictive drilling, especially for shale oil plays, in which oil is stored in situ in the source rocks. Combining Re-Os isotope dating and PGE abundance analysis can provide a powerful tool not only for constraining the age of oil generation and charging events, but also for tracing oil-source correlations.

Pilot Re-Os study on crude oil samples from Canning basin in Western Australia (WA) has been performed in order to test the suitability of Re-Os isotope system for geochronology and sources fingerprinting. The samples come from Dodonea, Sundown and Blina fields within Canning basin. The reservoir ages for these fields range from Ordovician to Carboniferous. The asphaltene fraction was extracted from crude oil samples in order to pre-concentrate the Re and Os, and then these fractions were used for Re-Os chemistry using Carious tube technique, followed by N-TIMS analysis.

From twelve samples of WA oil studied, only three returned the results because of quite low Re-Os abundances in separated asphaltines, in a range of up to 1 ppb for rhenium and tens of ppt for osmium. This is quite low compare to Canadian oils, which usually show about an order of magnitude higher abundances of these metals. Higher Re and Os contents in Canadian oils correlate with markedly higher nickel and vanadium abundances.
Our preliminary data show a good fit with the basin ages using geologically reasonable initial Os ratios varying from depleted mantle-like ratio of 0.12 for Ordovician samples to the more evolved ratio of 0.4, corresponding to the Os isotopic composition of Late Devonian seawater. Interestingly, the Ordovicial oil from Canning basin show more depleted source according to carbon isotope composition (~-31‰δ¹³C) as well, trending towards more enriched marine compositions for Devonian-Carboniferous parts of the basin (-27 to -29‰δ¹³C). As a conclusion, the study involving more samples shows a good potential for both geochronology and source fingerprinting of WA oils.


Impact Structures

Representative publications:


Representative publications:

4D Evolution of Ore Systems: RE-OS Sulphide Geochronology

This project seeks to utilize the Re-Os isochron method on sulphides to determine precise ages for two classes of metal deposits in WA: i.e. VHMS Zn-Pb-Cu deposits and orogenic gold deposits. Selected VHMS deposits from the Murchison (Golden Grove, Scuddles), eastern Yilgarn (Jaguar, Nimbus) and Pilbara (Sulphur Springs) will be studied as part of this project. The ages of mineralization for only two orogenic gold deposits in WA have been determined using the Re-Os isochron method on sulphides: at Sunrise Dam and Tropicana. The former example states an age uncertainty of +/-6 Ma and provides encouragement that ages, with precision similar to that gleaned from the U-Pb and Ar-Ar methods, are achievable. This project will seek Re-Os isochron ages on sulphides for undated deposits in the western Yilgarn (e.g. Boddington, Murchison), to build a comparative database to the eastern Yilgarn: i.e. ∼20 dated deposits using mainly ore-associated phosphates. The Re-Os ages will be complemented by U-Pb and Ar-Ar data to establish a 4D framework, where appropriate.

As part of the development of the Re-Os method in the John de Laeter Centre, we have recently determined a Re-Os age for molybdenite from the Central Bore gold prospect within the Yamarna terrain, in the eastern Yilgarn craton (Fuller et al., AESC proceedings, Newcastle, 2014). Here, gold is closely associated with molybdenite and is found in veins and inclusions in molybdenite. The Re-Os molybdenite age was 2620±10 Ma, which is compatible with U-Pb hydrothermal titanite ages from the same samples and slightly younger than zircon ages of hosting felsic volcanics (2677±7 Ma) and a minimum age for sandstone (2682±5 Ma) from the Yamarna terrain. It is also close to the timing of the gold deposition event (2640-2630 Ma) recorded at Kalgoorlie (Vielreicher et al., 2010), which is the youngest known mineralization event in the EGP (Vielreicher et al., in prep.). This pilot study suggests confirmation of the robust nature of Re-Os geochronometer in molybdenite and its potential application in WA, where molybdenite occurs.
Moreover, we recently performed a collaborative project with Russian Academy of Sciences in order to date the Olimpiada gold deposit using arsenopyrites. The reasonable isochron model age of 689±28 Ma was obtained (Borisenko et al., Acta Geol Sin, 2014), which is compatible with host rocks geochronology. Previous work of Dr Tessalina included determining isochron model ages on pyrite separates for several Urals VHMS deposits (e.g., Gannoun et al., 2003 Chem Geol; Tessalina et al, 2008 OGR). In addition, JdLC Director Professor Brent McInnes was previously a Project Leader on AMIRA P563 Re-Os Geochronology of Ore Systems (1999-2002: $320,000), an industry-ARC sponsored project that investigated the application of Re-Os isotope systematics in major ore deposits around the globe (McInnes et al., 1999, 2004 and 2008). This project generated research results for the Mount Morgan Cu-Au deposit in Queensland (Unpublished AMIRA P563 Final Report 2003).