Edition 6 - April 2013


Education Centre Updates is Geoscience Australia's newsletter for teachers in Australian schools. It is designed to keep you informed of recent developments in geoscience, teacher resources, upcoming events, and competitions for school pupils.

Geoscience Australia is a world leader in providing first class geoscientific information and knowledge which enables government and the community to make informed decisions about the management of resources; the management of the environment; the safety of critical infrastructure; and the resultant wellbeing of all Australians.

Latest news

  • For Canberra residents: The Woolshed Creek fossils near the airport are not accessible this year due to road works. However, the Narrabundah Ashstone Locality is an alternative. It is on the roadside, and on the Australian Capital Territory Heritage Register. Visit the giant rockface at the intersection of Fairbairn Avenue and Morshead Drive.
  • Australian Geographic maintains a website on latest natural disasters, including their usual high level of photography.
  • The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom has a section devoted to natural disasters and extreme weather. Visit this site for up-to-date stories from around the world.
  • Science Daily is another news website which has a dedicated section for natural hazards. Visit this site for up-to-date stories from around the world.
  • Read more news on the Geoscience Australia site.
2013 Diary Dates
Diary Dates 
7 - 10 JulyConference of the Australia Science Teachers Association (CONASTA 62) in Melbourne.
10 - 18 AugNational Science Week 2013: A Century of Australian Science
13 - 19 OctEarth Science Week 2013: Mapping Our World

Feature story

Meet Dan Connelly. Dan works for Geoscience Australia in the Australian Tsunami Warning Centre.

Meet Jane Sexton. Jane works for Geoscience Australia in the Earth Monitoring and Hazards Group.

Resources for educators

Year 6 Science


How do tsunami form? Read a simple explanation and learn some facts and figures from the experts.

And to accompany this site are tsunami simulations from Geoscience Australia and the US Geological Survey.

The Attorney General's Office has put together lessons plans on tsunami preparedness.


Australia experiences more earthquakes than just those that make the evening news bulletin. Geoscience Australia releases a new downloadable poster each year to show the earthquake occurrences of the previous year.


Discovery Channel video archive of tornadoes, including a Mythbusters snippet and easily explained controlled demonstrations of how tornadoes form.

Year 9 Science

Interactive site for revising and testing students on natural hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunami.

Hollywood's portrayal of tsunami can be misleading, with monster waves slamming down on beaches. This documentary about the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. It is told in the words of survivors through interviews and home-made videos and photos.

Video by IRIS showing the formation of tsunami.

Discovery Channel and National Geographic have put together an archive of short, snappy videos on volcanoes and earthquakes. Videos cover footage of Hawaiian volcanoes, people stories of survivors and the importance of volcanoes to peoples' culture and underwater eruptions. More.

Earthquakes and art. This article on a sand-tracing pendulum in Washington that captured a magnitude 6.8 earthquake spurs questions into earthquake prediction, surviving and earthquake and the mechanism for seismic waves. Earth Learning Idea have provided lesson plans for each of these topics.

Senior Science/Geography

Geoscience Australia discusses the definition of risk and how it is measured.

Geoscience Australia is a key partner in the National Flood Risk Information Project with responsibility for developing and implementing the National Flood Risk Information Portal. To read more about how this relates to flood mitigation at National, State and local levels.

Sentinel is a spatial bushfire monitoring system using the NASA Earth Observation Satellites Terra and Aqua. Read Geoscience Australia's webpages for more information and to view live data from the satellites.

For the mathematically inclined, the calculation of earthquake magnitudes is a fascinating challenge. These two sites explain in more or less mathematical or worded descriptions the different magnitude scales in use around the world.
Maths heavy
Worded explanations


Geoscience Australia's online magazine has regular stories on the work being done by the organisation.

Geoscience Australia has a comprehensive website on geological hazards, and our scientific and community involvement in the local region. Make sure you also check out the multimedia resources through the link on the right hand panel.

A huge archive of well-labelled videos by the US Geological Survey. Includes real footage of natural hazards (eg volcanoes, climate change, earthquakes) and engaging interviews with research scientists. Examples include 7 minute video of Mt St Helens, and 26 minute video of the 2002 eruption of Kilauea in Hawaii.

NASA have some amazingly accurate simulations care of their scientific visualisation studio. Examples include how a tsunami creates an iceberg 8000 miles away, and Iceland's EyjafjallajÖkull Volcanic Ash Plume May 6-8, 2010 - Stereoscopic Version.

The Attorney General's Department has put together a set of teaching resources on the topic of disasters. Included are interactive and digital stories, units of work and links to yet more useful sites.

This Dynamic Planet: A teaching companion. This page links you to valuable USGS resources for teaching about plate tectonics. This dynamic Earth: the story of plate tectonics (1996) is a comprehensive and useful booklet. Click through to the Smithsonian Institute for greater on-line interactivity. There is also a Pangea continent reconstruction exercise.

Magnificent photographs of active volcanoes in Chile, and their effect on the local town. These photos allow the opportunity to discuss what is meant by 'volcanic ash'. Remember, the name has nothing to do with burnt material. Instead, it refers to fragments of pulverised rock, minerals and volcanic glass which are less than 2 mm in diameter.

The 10 biggest...!

For more information on anything in this newsletter, contact education@ga.gov.au.