Student projects

Below we list potential student projects in RSES, with links to relevant supervisors and research groups. For a list of topics, research groups, and research projects in RSES, please see the research projects page


These projects aim to monitor how environmental processes change chemistry and mineralogy both in the field and in lab simulations using spectroscopy.
High-temperature gases are found in many environments on Earth and other planets, but they have been overlooked because they leave little trace. These projects aim to investigate these gases in magmas, volcanoes and metamorphic rocks using geochemistry and mineralogy of natural samples and experiments.
This project will measure volatile (H2O, CO2, SO2 and Cl) abundances and oxygen isotopes at micro-scales in selected glasses from tephras recovered by deep-sea drilling In the Izu-Bonin-Marianas (IBM) forearc. The data will help constrain the extent of submarine or subaerial volcanism, and alteration in the tephras.
An interstellar molecular cloud transformed into our Solar System through condensation of mineral grains, accretion and growth of planetesimals and planets in a short period of a few million years. Understanding the nature of these events is impossible without their precise sequencing. The aim of this...
All chemical elements heavier than lithium, that comprise the Earth and our Solar System, were produced by nuclear reactions in stars, and mixed during formation of the Solar System. It was once thought that that mixture once existed as a hot and almost homogeneous molecular cloud, and the minerals, planetesimals...

Climate and Fluid Physics

Use your skills in physics, mathematics or computational science to better understand our climate system.
The melting of Antarctica’s marine-terminating ice sheets is controlled by heat delivered from the Southern Ocean to the Antarctic margins, and is the largest uncertainty in future sea level rise. This project will use a combination of ocean modelling, theory and observations to predict future Antarctic melt rate.
Spontaneous Generation of Internal Waves
The ocean is a sea of internal gravity waves. Similar to the gravity waves that propagate over the ocean surface and break along our coastlines, internal waves propagate great distances through the ocean interior. These waves are generated at the ocean surface and the seafloor by a variety of mechanisms. As the...

Regional Hydrologic Studies

Changes in the hydrology of a region can have profound ecological socio-economic consequences. Some of the changes can be attributed to year-to-year variations in rainfall but longer-term changes can and do occur. For...
The Southern Ocean is a key contributor to global climate. It regulates the absorption of CO2 into the ocean, plays a key role in ocean heat uptake and most likely influenced abrupt climate variability in the past. However, the processes that limit Southern Ocean circulation occur at very fine scales,...

Environmental Geodesy

Seeking a suitably qualified student to participate in an extension of this distinctive experimental work.
Tectonics, dynamics and river systems
River systems hold information on tectonic history in their sediment load and their morphology. Coupled models of tectonics, topography and surface evolution help us to understand continental deformation patterns. This project uses state-of-the-art tools in models of collision, basin formation and plate boundaries.
GRACE-FO satellites
This project involves quantifying changes in water resources in Australia. The student will learn all aspects of processing space gravity data from the GRACE Follow-On mission and how to integrate remotely sensed observations into hydrology models. Maths/physics and programming skills are highly desired for the study.
Geodynamics occupies a unique position in the solid Earth Sciences. It is primarily concerned with the dynamical processes affecting the Earth, both within its interior and at its surface, although it can also be applied to the interiors and surfaces of other terrestrial planets and their moons.
Himalayan Model
Congested subduction happens whenever buoyant material such as an oceanic plateau gets caught up on a moving plate and eventually arrives at a subduction zone. The buoyant material may be scraped off or subducted, but it always puts up a fight which leaves characteristic scars on the over-riding plate.
Pore-water within a basin flows in response to supply, extraction, topography, and imposed pressure gradients. Changes to these parameters in complex, tectonically active basins require complex, 3D, coupled models to understand. This project is concerned with developing, testing and applying such models.
Signals transmitted from satellites orbiting the Earth are delayed as they pass through the troposphere of the Earth. This is measurable by GPS and so it is possible to measure how much water vapour is actually in the atmosphere using GPS. This is a new area of research that will involve the student learning about...
The Virtual Earth describes the real or material Earth - it is an electronic rendition of our planet as it is today. The aspect upon which we have specifically focussed is the geometric description of the planetary lithosphere, in particular the 3D geometry of the major subducting slabs. These geometries have been...

Experimental Petrology

This project will investigate controls on the abundances of niobium and tantalum, two important "critical metals", in cassiterite mineralisation associated with Paleozoic granitoid intrusions in eastern Australia. A further key aspect will investigate novel technologies for extraction of Nb and Ta from cassiterite.
Experimental petrology is about subjecting rocks and minerals to pressure, temperature and other conditions that occur in the Earth, in order to investigate and understand processes that lead to diverse processes including volcanism, plate tectonics, ore deposit formation, differentiation of the Earth and many others.
Revising the chlorite geothermometer to understand the formation mechanisms of ore deposits
Pyrochlor is the main ore mineral for the critical metal niobium, and is most commonly found in carbonatites. This project aims to use experimental petrology to understand the conditions under which economic deposits of pyrochlor can form, during crustal evolution of carbonatite magmas.

The age and tectonic setting of basaltic intrusions of the south coast of NSW

The rocks of the Sydney Basin and Lachlan Fold Belt exposed along the south coast of NSW contain numerous basaltic (basalt and dolerite) intrusions (e.g. Bingie Bingie Point, Dolphin Point, Snake Bay, Long Reef, North Bondi).  The ages of these dykes and sills are unknown, however, they are assumed to be Tertiary...
Zircon (ZrSiO4) and monazite (CePO4) are common minor minerals in granites.  Although they are not abundant they are important because they are the host of many elements that are incompatible in the rock-forming minerals.  For example, the ability of zircon to incorporate U has made it the...