The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) comprises 5.9 million km2, or approximately 42 per cent of the Antarctic continent, with a marine jurisdiction extending over an area of approximately 2.2 million km2 (an additional approximate 680 000km2 of extended continental shelf that remains to be resolved is not included). These regions, when taken together, represent 30 per cent of all of Australia’s confirmed land and marine jurisdictions.
Geoscience Australia provides geoscience advice to support Australian Government's activities in Antarctica and goals for Antarctic science.
A Geoscience Australia officer is the Deputy Chair of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research Geoscience Standing Science Group. Project officers assist the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) in assessing Antarctic science proposals, and help manage geological and geophysical data and geological samples. Geoscience Australia maintains a repository of rocks and sediment samples collected by Australian Antarctic expeditions dating back to the 1950s. Geoscience Australia also conducts geoscience research in Australia's Antarctic Territory and represents Australia on international organisations concerned with Antarctic geoscience (For example the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)).
Geoscience Australia assists the AAD through input into the process of identifying vulnerable marine ecosystems for protection by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Geoscience Australia is working on the sedimentary processes active on the George V Land Shelf and assessing the impact and interaction of those physical processes with benthic ecosystems. Geoscience Australia also conducts the coordination of a project in the CCAMLR region to identify cold seeps and hydrothermal vents and the biota associated with these features.
Associated with these activities, Geoscience Australia has developed a GIS of sea floor geomorphology for the CCAMLR region which is being used to locate vulnerable marine ecosystems and contribute to a risk management system for benthic fisheries.
Geoscience Australia, through collaboration with external researchers, is producing special edition geological map series of selected onshore areas incorporating legacy data. Geoscience Australia is also contributing to onshore programs aligned with the Australian Governments’ 10 year science Antarctic Science Plan (2011-21), such as geological factors controlling on ice sheet dynamics, landscape vulnerability mapping, and management and protection of sites of geological significance within the AAT.