Starting graduate school and research overseas; Introducing Tasmania
Intro: After graduating from university with a Bachelor of Science, and working in mineral exploration for a couple years, I decided to go back to school again and aspire toward a Masters of Science. I really do love the school/university environment and have always wanted to broaden my education and take on a research based project in the form of a MSc or PhD in Earth Science. Therefore, with now having some work experience under my belt, and time off in-between to travel, I felt as this was the right time to start a research degree.
Having lived for all my life in Canada, I took this as an opportunity to go overseas to pursue higher education. After lengthy consideration over universities in Europe, I finally found a great fit with a project, professor, and school in the “down under” country of Australia.
And so, I am now living in Tasmania, Australia, attending school, and fleetingly into my (hopefully successful) MSc candidature. Wish me luck!
I definitely plan on keeping up this blog, and I hope to share my travel and science/research, whether it be with school or recreational, and hopefully keep on educating on all the fantastic nature wonders of the earth
Anyways, enough about me. I plan on going into more detail on my research in the future (hint: it’s to do with volcanoes, gold, and the South Pacific). But for now, here is just a tidbit of where exactly Tasmania is, and a brief, broad overview of its pretty spectacular geological formation, accompanied with photographs from some early hikes and field trips I have partaken in.
Science Spheel: Heart Breaking (Geology, Plate Tectonics, & Geomorphology)
Tasmania is a heart-shaped island 240 km south of Australia. As the most southern state in Australia, it’s climate is closer to south island New Zealand than (stereo)typical, outback northern Australia. The devil-shaped island may be small, but its foundations are some of the oldest. Rocks have been dated to the Precambrian (greater than 542 million years ago). However, Tasmania was still part of mainland Australia and Antarctica at this point, and would remain so the next ~500 million years.
Over the 600 to 400 million year ago (mya) time frame (Cambrian and Ordovician), Tasmania experienced a range of tectonic activity, where earthquakes and extensional lead to chains of volcanoes. This was followed by quite times and flooding of the land, resulting in erosion of mountains and rocks, and the emergence of abundance early life-form organisms just starting to invade land.
The Devonian and Jurassic (400 to 160 mya) encompassed a major collisions of two continental plates, known as the Great Dividing Range through most of south east Australia. This generated extensive mountain building and heat production, which consequently lead to magma production and crystallization at depth, resulting in spectacular granite batholiths that are seen in the north east of Tasmania.
And again, these mountains were subjected to long, slow periods of erosion, flooding, basin formation, and glacier erosion.
Finally, around 260 mya (Jurassic) things start to get interesting again and the break up of a supercontinent known as Gondwana, and subsequently the opening of the Tasman Sea, resulted in a major surge of dolerite magma as dykes and sills into the crust of the earth below Tasmania.
Since this dolerite cooled from extremely hot temperatures, it crystallized and contracted in the distinct columnar jointing pattern that riddles the south coast. These are the famous dolerite cliffs on southern Tasmania. Tasmania (and mainland Australia) broke free from Antarctica about 45 mya (Tertiary), exposing these vertical dolerite cliffs as a scare on the edge of the landmass.
The rest of the story is the result of glaciations carving and sculpting the land until what is currently present day Tasmania (Tasmania Gov Parks 2010) (Solomon 1981)
The formation of this no-so-little island is nothing short of impressive, and I’ve grossly simplified its history, but I hope to get the message across of how diverse and geologically interesting it is. I can’t wait to explore more of Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, and wherever else my education and travels take me in the coming time. If there is a lag time between blog posts, it is probably going to equate to myself stressing and working on my thesis, so bare with me. Cheers!
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