Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of jobs could I do at Geoscience Australia?

There are many different jobs relating to science, technical activities and IT skills at Geoscience Australia. Geochemists, seismologists, geophysicists, petroleum engineers, hydro-geologists, IT specialists, mathematicians, communications specialists and laboratory and field technicians are just some of the careers available.

Where can you find gold in Australia?

Graduates in the field.

Graduates in the field
© Geoscience Australia

Gold can be found in rocks throughout Australia, but is mined in locations where there are particularly high concentrations. Gold mining takes place in all States and the Northern Territory. Australia is the world's third-largest producer of gold, with both open-cut and underground gold mines.

More information can be found in the Australian Atlas of Minerals Resources, Mines and Processing Centres' Gold Rock File, on the Minerals Downunder website or in the Australia's Identified Mineral Resources 2009 publication.

What is an earthquake?

An earthquake is the sudden shaking of the ground. It may be caused by underground movement along a fault plane (a large crack or break within a body of rock) or by volcanic activity.

You can help earthquake research by telling us if you think you have felt an earthquake. Geoscience Australia's simple online earthquake report form gathers information through a series of questions to find out about shaking windows, loud noises or any immediate building damage. This information will assist seismologists develop a greater understanding of this naturally occurring Earth process.

What is a tsunami, and could one happen in Australia?

Tsunami (pron: 'soo-nar-me') is a Japanese word; 'tsu' meaning harbour and 'nami' meaning wave. They are usually caused by earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions in, or next to oceans which result in the sudden movement of the water column. The waves formed may not be noticeable out at sea, but when they approach land the water can cause devastating flooding in coastal areas. Until recently tsunami were incorrectly called tidal waves, even though the event has nothing to do with tides.

Tsunami threat, or risk, varies around Australia's coastline with most having a low tsunami risk, although some areas along the north-west coast of Western Australia have moderate risk. This is because these areas are close to Indonesia and other countries in the region which have significant earthquake and volcanic activity, and therefore have the potential to generate a tsunami.  

What can you tell me about the Earth's magnetic field?

Graduates in the field.

Graduates in the field
© Geoscience Australia

The term geomagnetism refers to the Earth's magnetic field. Information about the Earth's magnetic field is used for many purposes, including navigation, mapping and mineral exploration.

Geoscience Australia maintains a national network of geomagnetic observatories. The information gathered contributes to a global network which helps to increase public safety by helping to calibrate navigational aids such as global positioning systems (GPS) and helping to counter potential hazardous effects of magnetic storms on communication and navigation systems, as well as on powerlines and pipelines.

How can carbon dioxide be stored underground?

Carbon Capture and Storage is the process of capturing carbon dioxide and injecting it deep underground for long term storage. Carbon dioxide, produced mainly by industrial processes such as power generation is injected into underground rock layers,  preventing it from entering the atmosphere. This reduces the potential impact that greenhouse gases might have on climate change. At Geoscience Australia, researchers are investigating areas such as old oil and gas fields, deep saline (salt) reservoirs or deep coal deposits to inject the carbon dioxide and areas have been made available to industry through the greenhouse gas acreage release.

How fast is Australia moving northwards?

Australia is located on the Indo-Australian plate and is moving north at approximately seven centimetres a year.

What is a topographic map?

Topographic maps are graphic representations of features which appear on the Earth's surface at a point in time.

Graduates in the field.

Graduates in the field
© Geoscience Australia

Topographic maps:

  • have different scales depending on their purpose. Topographic maps at 1:10 000, 1:25 000 and 1:50 000 scales show geographic features in detail. The 1:100 000 and 1:250 000 scale maps are useful for planning travel over large distances, while 1:1 million, 1:2.5 million and 1:5 million scale maps are best for giving overviews.
  • show geographic information such as latitude and longitude, (degrees, minutes and seconds) or grid coordinates (metres), as well as symbols representing physical features such as rivers, cliffs and mountains. They also show features created by human such as built up areas and powerlines.
  • are critical to the development of Australia.
  • have a variety of applications, including government, business, emergency management and recreation.

What is remote sensing?

Satellite remote sensing involves gathering information from orbiting satellites which depict features on the Earth's surface.

These satellites carry sensors to record the level of radiation reflected or emitted from the Earth's surface. The acquired data is then downloaded via receiving stations and transferred to Geoscience Australia in Canberra for processing. This geographic data is then used to benefit the Australian community.

Some examples of the uses for satellite data collected by Geoscience Australia are:

  • assessment and monitoring of vegetation changes
  • soil and salinity surveys
  • minerals exploration
  • map making and revision
  • water resource management
  • urban and regional planning
  • agricultural property management
  • crop yield assessment and forecasting
  • natural disaster assessment
  • bushfire monitoring
  • coastal zone vulnerability assessment.

Topic contact: Last updated: November 23, 2010