Sarlae McAlpine

Geoscience Australia graduate Sarlae McAlpine with her hand lens and favourite peridotite rock sample taken during her PhD project

I grew up on remote, sub-tropical Norfolk Island and developed a love and respect for the world around me at a very early age. I moved to the ‘mainland’ in 2005 to study Astrophysics at the Australian National University (ANU). I was soon brought back down to earth after discovering I could pursue my love of Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics together in the fascinating and multidisciplinary science of geology.

I completed a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Chemistry and Geology with Honours in Geology. My Honours project was set in the Italian Alps and specialised in Metamorphic Petrology. This field focuses on the composition and texture of rocks which have undergone chemical, mineralogical and textural changes due to pressure and temperature extremes.

My PhD, at the Research School of Earth Sciences at the ANU was the study of a green crystalline rock called peridotite. I studied peridotite-cored “basalt bombs” which erupted in three volcanic arcs in the Western Pacific. I studied the mineral and chemical composition of both the basalt host rocks and their rare peridotite cores. Studying rocks of this type improves our understanding of the underlying mantle in this complex tectonic region, and processes within arc systems globally.

Geoscience Australia’s Graduate Program offers me an opportunity to work in an agency that directly contributes to economic, social and environmental benefits for the Australian community. By participating in multiple rotations throughout the year I look forward to undertaking meaningful research in a range of scientific disciplines.

My first rotation project involves measuring the surface deformation of Merapi Volcano using a satellite monitoring technique called synthetic aperture radar interferometry (InSAR). Merapi is the most active volcano in Indonesia and this project has applications for future real-time monitoring of surface deformation caused by the intrusion of magma beneath volcanoes.

Meet the 2013 graduates