Virtual Science Centre a World First

19 April 2002

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Warren Entsch, today announced the establishment of the first Virtual Centre of Economic Micropalaeontology and Palynology.

A brainchild of Geoscience Australia, the Centre will document and define biozones, which are used in the oil, gas and coal industries to provide the primary time and correlation data used in basin modelling, exploration and production. A biozone includes all rocks laid down in a specific period of time as defined by a characteristic group of fossil organisms.

Currently, industry applies informal biozonation schemes which are idiosyncratic because they are the preserve of one specialist or supplier of biozone data. Many of the key species used to define biozones are undescribed and referred to by alphanumeric codes - this has been particularly confusing for companies involved in joint ventures where they each use different data suppliers and find they are using different names for the same biozone.

Mr Entsch said the Centre is an exciting world first.

"It has already had a profound effect on how palynological work is being done and has the potential to save the petroleum exploration industry significant amounts of time and money," Mr Entsch said.

"The ten studies that have been completed by the Centre, including Memoir 24 of the Association of Australasian Palaeontologists, are all digital. With the notable exception of work at the University of Western Australia, this has not happened before."

Mr Entsch noted that the work is also bringing the Commonwealth Palaeontological Collections to life with wider access to the scientific community through the web.

The British Geological Survey and the University of Western Australia collaborated extensively with the Centre at the outset and have now formally joined as partners.

"Their participation demonstrates the world class nature of the Centre," Mr Entsch said.

As well as being a boon to the petroleum exploration industry, the Centre also aims to ensure the continuing development of Micropalaeontology (the study of microfossils) and Palynology (the study of fossil spores and pollen) as scientific disciplines and their application to solving exploration problems.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013