The government has pumped $43 million into an initiative designed to really get under our skin — from a geological standpoint.
The money is going into AuScope, a nonprofit company designed to help governments, universities, and research and science agencies collaborate in their efforts to better understand Australia’s natural resources. AuScope will allow smoother access to a knowledge database that will mined for further research, passed along to industry and educators, and used to inform government policy.
One of the specific goals of Auscope will be to get a clearer picture of Australia’s subsurface, using core sample taken down to about 2km. AuScope’s National Virtual Core Library will try to answer the question: What are we sitting on?
It also will work to turn up the dials on geospacial research, tapping into satellite imaging to learn about the continent and its seas from far above. If nothing else, we should get some nifty 3-D models and video out of this.
But what AuScope is really about is collaboration. In speech last month at Parliament House, AuScope board chairman Linda Kristjanson referred to it as “the ‘so-what factor’ of our capability.”
Krisjanson said AuScope’s infrastructure allows researchers an “integrated context” to study issues such as climate change, groundwater resources, mineral and energy resources, land use, natural hazards, and the secure disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
Innovation Minister Kim Carr said: “AuScope has been embraced enthusiastically because it allows resources and data to be shared across sectors. It will open innovative commercial developments in geothermal energy production and carbon dioxide geosequestration.
“No single researcher, research institution, discipline or jurisdiction can provide the solutions,” Carr said. “But AuScope will increase the chances and opportunities.”
Image by AuScope