Careers in Geoscience: Government
All state governments in Australia maintain geoscientific organisations (GSOs—generally referred to as Geological Surveys) that provide technical support to industry and government. To support exploration in the mineral, coal, coal seam gas, petroleum and gas, and extractive resource industries, the GSOs acquire, collate and interpret geoscientific data and make it publicly available through publications, maps and digital data products. This data is acquired through surveys, such as geological mapping, airborne and ground geophysics, seismic and geochemical sampling, or collated from historical company exploration reports and integrating research by universities and other research organisations such as CSIRO. The GSOs also monitor exploration and mining activity. GSOs also use this information to provide authoritative, independent advice to all levels of government and the community to enable informed decision-making associated with resource extraction. They also promote the resource potential of their States nationally and internationally with the intent of attracting exploration and investment in the resources sector. The Commonwealth Government also has a national geological survey organisation, Geoscience Australia (GA) that provides geoscience information, services and capability to the Australian Government, industry and other stakeholders. GA conducts research with a more national focus, although in many cases it works closely with the State geological survey organisations. Apart from research into resources, GA also conducts geoscientific research into natural hazards, Australia’s maritime jurisdiction and Antarctica. CSIRO also employs geoscientists in specialised research to facilitate cost effective exploration and discovery of new mineral resources through advances in detection technologies such as remote sensing and geochemistry, mineral systems studies, resource characterisation and data analysis. Governments also employ hydrogeologists to conduct research on groundwater and surface water systems and provide information and advice to government and other stakeholders on water resources. These may be employed within GSOs but usually are within other parts of government.
The type of activities will depend on the area of the GSO to which you are assigned. These areas could include Regional Mapping, Mineral Deposit Studies, Coal Geology, Petroleum and Gas, Basin Studies, Geophysics, Information Management, Industrial Minerals and Extractive Resources, Regional Planning and Biostratigraphy.
Some examples of the types of activities are:
- Collating available geoscience information from a variety of published and unpublished sources
- Data-stripping from company exploration reports
- Interpreting remotely sensed data
- Regional geological mapping (including field work)
- Petrological studies
- Geochemistry (both exploration and whole-rock analysis)
- Integrating and analysing data sets
- Planning and overseeing regional geophysical surveys
- Seismic interpretation
- Lithostratigraphic and bio-stratigraphic interpretation
- Basin analysis
- Petroleum system analysis
- Core logging
- Mineral occurrence mapping
- Monitoring exploration and mining activities
- Regolith mapping
- Environmental geology
- Producing syntheses in map and report form
- Database management
- Providing geoscientific or resource-related advice to external clients including consultants, exploration companies, other researchers and members of the public, and to Departmental managers, the Minister and other Government departments.
The job carries a high level of responsibility, because the geoscientific information needs to be accurate and presented clearly and succinctly. Government geological reports are often considered to be the most authoritative and standard reference on a given area and are likely to be consulted for many years. They will be used by companies and consultants to build exploration models, select ground for exploration and to base their own detailed surveys. Advice given to Governments at all levels needs to be accurate and unbiased (even if ultimately ignored).
Typical skills required are:
- Strong knowledge of a range of Earth Science disciplines
- Good written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to work within a multidisciplinary team of scientists and technical support staff
- Good organisational and time management skills
- Computer literacy and ability to analyse numerical and graphical data and preferably skills in using GIS applications
A manual driver’s licence is desirable and may be mandatory for some positions.