AUSGEO News  March 2005  Issue no. 77

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ACT Region map updated after firestorm

Senator Gary Humphries, the Hon Warren Entsch MP, Dr. Trevor Powell, the Hon Gary Nairn MP and Mr. Peter Holland, following the launch of the ACT region map. The new 1:100 000 scale topographic map of the ACT region covers a larger area than previous editions. The new map includes a Landsat image showing the state of vegetation after the January 2003 bushfires that claimed four lives and destroyed more than 500 houses in Canberra.

Geoscience Australia worked closely with the ACT Emergency Services Authority to produce the map and a Geographical Information System data product that will be a valuable resource for the region's emergency management workers and community.


Left to right: Senator Gary Humphries, Senator for the ACT; the Hon. Warren Entsch MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources; Dr Trevor Powell, Chief, Spatial Information Sciences; The Hon. Gary Nairn MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister; and Mr Peter Holland, General Manager, National Mapping Division, following the launch of the new ACT region map at Geoscience Australia on 15 February 2005.

The map is part of a cooperative pilot program being undertaken by Geoscience Australia in partnership with state and territory emergency management and mapping agencies. The program addresses issues raised by the House of Representatives Select Committee Inquiry into the Operational Response to the January 2003 Bushfires in the ACT and the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) National Inquiry on Bushfire Management, Prevention and Mitigation in Australia.

During a recent visit to Geoscience Australia's headquarters, Warren Entsch, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, thanked the staff involved in production of the map and database. He pointed out the importance of accurate maps showing critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, buildings and dams, for emergency management.

Mr Entsch said the project – a significant undertaking by Geoscience Australia on behalf of the Australian Government – had produced a map that gave emergency service workers this critical information and also provided a good overview of the 'bush capital'.

Gary Nairn, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee, commended Geoscience Australia for its prompt response to the committee's recommendations.

Geoscience Australia initiated the $1 million pilot program in early 2004, in collaboration with state mapping agencies and the Emergency Management Spatial Information Network Australia. The pilot program was set up to improve national cooperation and achieve best practice in mapping and maintaining fundamental information needed for emergency management and other purposes. The findings of the pilot are being integrated into the 200506 program.

The COAG inquiry also identified the need for topographic data for operational use at 1:25 000 and 1:50 000 scales. The cooperative program with the states is already allowing Geoscience Australia to develop single 'point of truth' GIS databases that can be used to derive maps at a range of scales.

Section of ACT region map 100K scaleSection of ACT region map 100K scaleBurnt trees in the Cotter areaSection of ACT region map 100K scale

Science students visit Geoscience Australia

Students study rock samples taken from the Leonora district in Western Australia.In January, over sixty Year 11 students from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa spent two half-days prospecting for gold at Geoscience Australia.

Their visit was part of the annual National Youth Science Forum, which provides students with experience in science, engineering and technology through a series of workshops, lectures and social activities.

The students’ visit to Geoscience Australia was a hands-on experience. They used geochemistry, geographical information systems, geophysics and geological mapping techniques to search for the elusive yellow metal.

The students studied the geochemistry of rock samples from the Leonora district in Western Australia. They employed a variety of lab equipment, and analysed rock core sections with a portable infrared mineral analyser.

The group also explored gravity/magnetics, radiometrics, radioactivity and gamma rays in the quest for gold, and ended the workshop with a presentation of their findings.

Geoscience Australia’s scientists and education staff collaborated to develop the course content and run the workshop.

For further information about NYSF and the Geoscience Education Centre contact Kate List on +61 2 249 9571 or email

Remote sensing unit sets up technical reference group

Geoscience Australia’s remote sensing unit, ACRES, has established a National Remote Sensing Technical Reference Group to advise on strategic positioning and on technical decisions about the provision of ‘public good’ satellite imagery.

The group held its first meeting in December 2004. Discussion focussed on satellite data usage and access, agreement on the group’s terms of reference and updating ACRES activities. The group also examined technical contingencies and strategies. Major discussion points included the following:

Current members of the National Remote Sensing Technical Reference Group include Mr Max Bye, Mr Tim Danaher, Dr David Griersmith, Dr Alex Held, Dr Adam Lewis, Ms Elizabeth McDonald, Ms Alla Metlenko, Dr Shanti Reddy, Professor John Richards, Dr Kim Ritman and Dr Richard Smith. The group will reconvene in April 2005.

For further information: phone Adam Lewis on +61 2 6249 9353 or email

Unless otherwise noted, all Geoscience Australia material on this website is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence.