Earth Sciences Research

New Zealand scenery

Earth science honours New Zealand trip - Image courtesy Alex Butter

Our earth scientists explore the planet we live on, how it works, its history and what it is capable of.

We research across the world, applying cutting-edge methods to understand and address issues vital to sustaining our way of life on this planet.

  • We explore the how the planet works, from deep time plate tectonics to the evolution of continents.
  • We focus on understanding the resource endowment of Australia and the planet, endeavouring to identify critical controls on their formation and pathways to discovery.
  • We investigate how life has developed and evolved from fundamental molecules, through basic cells to megafauna and the modern inventory of life.

Research strengths

Our scientists work across the following multidisciplinary themes. Across all themes, our research has been rated by Australian Research Council’s Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) as:

  • Well above world standard: Geology; Geochemistry
  • Above world standard: Geophysics

Mineral and energy systems

We undertake fundamental and applied geologic and geophysical research in the resources area.

Our research outcomes are used to support and influence exploration strategies in mineral and energy exploration.

Tectonics and solid earth processes

We study the current state and evolution of the major solid Earth processes that shape our planet. These processes serve as a framework from which the generation and concentration of mineral and energy resources may be placed in context.

Our investigations include the Earth's history of magmatism, metamorphism, deformation, and plate motion through a combination of geochemical, petrologic, sedimentological, structural, geochronological, and geophysical methods.

Palaeoclimatology, palaeontology and palaeoenvironments

We examine fossil remains, from mammals, plants and microorganisms, and date sediments using optical and radiogenic geochronology. We specialise in using isotope and molecular geochemistry to infer past temperature, water balance and biogeochemical cycles.

Our goal is to understand more about the history of Earth's life and climate to unravel the mechanisms of long-term change, and to provide context for an uncertain future.

Environmental geochemistry

We employ elemental, isotopic and molecular tracers to explore the origins and pathways of materials and water on Earth's surface.

Our research includes the tracing of water sources in coastal zones, calculating carbon burial in sediments, fingerprinting the origins of petroleum in the natural environment and quantifying the uptake of groundwater by terrestrial ecosystems. This work has relevance interdisciplinary research, including environmental forensics, land management and water quality.

The Faculty of Sciences offers a wide range of science facilities including the Mawson Analytical Facilities which are available for industry use.

Below is a cumulative list of all theses completed by students of Earth Sciences. These lists are produced as an easily searchable database.

Dates shown are the year of completion of the thesis and entries within each degree category are ordered according to these dates. The majority of theses can be viewed and downloaded via the Digital Database at the Barr Smith Library. The online repository is currently being updated with online copies of theses previously published in hard copy only.

For theses not available online through the Barr Smith Library repository please contact the School of Physical Sciences.

Bachelor of Science (Honours) 

Master of Science 


Doctorate of Science 

Earth science news

Neanderthals and Homo sapiens more similar than previously thought

A cave on the Atlantic coast near Lisbon has provided researchers with key archaeological information that questions the behavioural gap once thought to separate Neanderthals from contemporaneous Homo sapiens.

Local geoscientist the first Australian student to win award

Geoscientist Natalie Debenham has been awarded the Journal of Structural Geology’s 'Student Author of the Year Award'.

Spaghetti and mud pies scoop 3-Minute Thesis final

The depth and diversity of research student projects in the Faculty of Sciences was once again on display at this week's final of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition.


Earth science events

Earth Sciences Seminars - 2020

A summary of seminars and events hosted by the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

Earth Sciences Seminars - 2019

A summary of seminars and events hosted by the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

Physics Seminar: Dr Helen Maynard-Casely

Our solar system contains a great array of small planetary bodies that show remarkable variability in the chemistry, and subsequent materials, that form on their surfaces.


Study with us

Explore your honours and PhD options in earth sciences.

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Search our researcher database for experts and supervisors.

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