AuScope Geochemistry Network

Dr Samuel Boone1, Dr Alexander Prent2, Hayden Dalton1, Dr Guillaume Florin3, Dr Yoann Greau3, Dr Olivier Alard3, Dr Erin  Matchan1, Dr Tim Rawling4, Dr Fabian Kohlmann5, Moritz Theile5, Dr Wayne Noble5, Dr Lesley Wyborn6, Prof Suzanne  O’Reilly3, Prof Barry Kohn1, Prof Andy Gleadow1, Prof Brent McInnes2

1University of Melbourne, School of Earth Sciences, Parkville, Australia
2Curtin University, John de Laeter Centre, Bentley, Australia
3Macquarie University, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Sydney, Australia
4AuScope, Melbourne, Australia
5Lithodat Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia
6Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Established in 2019, the AuScope Geochemistry Network (AGN) is a collaborative consortium of Australian Earth Science analytical laboratories. Current AGN nodes include Curtin University, The University of Melbourne and Macquarie University, however, there are plans to expand the AGN by including additional research partners in 2021. The AGN’s mission is to: (i) endorse existing geochemical capability across Australia; (ii) promote capital and operational investments in new, advanced geochemical infrastructure; (iii) support increased end user access to laboratory facilities; (iv) support professional development via online tools, training courses and workshops; and (v) foster a FAIR Australian geochemistry data ecosystem through the development of a central repository for multiple isotopic data types.

Towards these goals, the AGN is collaborating with Lithodat to build a FAIR-based, cloud-hosted open geochemistry data platform called AusGeochem. Data models are being developed in consultation with method-specific expert advisory groups, adopting international data reporting practices and utilising world-class data collections at Curtin (SHRIMP U-Pb), Macquarie University (LA-ICP-MS U-Pb and Lu-Hf) and the University of Melbourne (Fission Track, (U-Th)/He and Ar/Ar).

This all-purpose geochemistry research tool will allow laboratories to upload, archive, mint (IGSN), disseminate and publish (DOIs) their datasets while maintaining privacy control and to perform statistical analyses and data synthesis within the context of large volumes of publicly funded geochemical data aggregated by the AGN, all while minimising data handling. The AusGeochem platform will, thus, provide a powerful new resource to quantitatively understand Earth system processes, utilising Australian-produced geochemistry data from across the globe.


Dr Samuel C Boone is a research fellow in the University of Melbourne School of Earth Sciences and a data science coordinator within the AuScope Geochemistry Laboratory Network. Prior to this, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Geosciences at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.

His research concerns investigating the tectono-thermal evolution of Earth’s crust in relation to orogenesis, continental breakup and landscape evolution.

To do this, he integrates a range of temperature-sensitive radiometric dating techniques, such as fission track and (U-Th-Sm)/He thermochronology, with geochemistry, structural geology and stratigraphy in field and laboratory work.


Announcing the Australian Research Environment (ARE)

Dr Jenni Harrison1, Dr Carina Kemp2, Mr Allan Williams3

1Pawsey Supercomputing Centre,  Australia
2ARRNet, , Australia
3The National Computation Infrastructure, , Australia


PAWSEY, AARNet and NCI (The collaboration) are the leading providers of high-end national research infrastructure and associated services and are committed to delivering innovative solutions to support the Australian research community.  Working collaboratively, using the National Research Roadmap for support, the Collaboration these understand there is a need to establish a sustainable and trusted service to accelerate big data research in Australia.


The collaboration identified some time ago that there was a need for easy to access computation to help support researchers across Australia in a consistent, sustainable and scalable way.  They identified the complicated offerings in the national landscape with the introduction of commercial providers of compute also now providing a service to the research sector.  Additionally, with the onset of a global pandemic and the associated severe fiscal restrictions on the research sector, the collaboration set out to provide a streamlined, nationally integrated workspace connected by high speed links for all Australian researchers that:

  • Promotes high quality research and encourages innovation
  • Provides a secure and trusted environment that is integrated into the national data and HPC platforms
  • Is economically sustainable, scalable and cost effective
  • Reduces complexity for researchers enabling them to focus on the research and reduce the time to results.


The result is the introduction of the Australian Research Environment a national initiative which will be commencing service during 2021.  It will be accessible to Australian researchers, empowering and supporting innovation, enabling development across industry, government and academia.


Jenni is a passionate leader in technology. A PhD-qualified medicinal chemist and MSc qualified in digital education, Jenni migrated from Scotland where she was delivering national multi-institution digital projects and initiatives advancing healthcare, to become Head of Data at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.  Jenni, now Director of Strategic Project and Engagement, has forged many effective research collaborations, has secured significant research funding and has developed strategic partnerships with many international organisations.  Jenni is an inclusive, strategic thinker who leads on STEM initiatives.  An AICD graduate, she uses her skills to increase diversity. Jenni is a lifelong learner and published author.

The recently signed Australian BioCommons / ELIXIR Collaboration Strategy Agreement allows for unprecendented cooperation on bioinformatics infrastructure between Australia and the EU.

A/Prof. Andrew Lonie1, Dr Rhys Francis1, Dr Corinne Martin2, Dr Andrew Smith2, Dr Niklas Blomberg2, Dr Jeff Christinasen3

1Australian BioCommons (University of Melbourne), Carlton, Australia
2ELIXIR, Wellcome Genome Campus, United Kingdom
3Australian BioCommons (Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation), St Lucia, Australia


In this presentation I will discuss the mutual benefits codified in the Strategy Agreement, and our operational approach to achieving them.


A new Collaboration Strategy between ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons creates a cooperative plan to exploit international synergies between the two research infrastructures. This three-year collaboration will actively involve Australian BioCommons in many of the activities related to the European life science infrastructures.


A number of common alignment areas have been identified for collaboration including the adoption of international standards in software platforms, workflows, tools and data (such as the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH)). Supporting global research communities (such as in metagenomics methods, biodiversity, de-novo genome assembly, phylogenomics, plant phenotyping-genotyping), and the delivery of federated solutions to human data preservation and research access are prime examples of why these partners have come together to formalise a Collaboration Strategy.


ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons are both already heavily involved in methodological platform and tool collaboration — a leading example of a joint project of interest being Galaxy, the open, web-based platform for collaborative research. International collaboration on training and training materials in bioinformatics has also begun, with ELIXIR Training Platform partners participating in the Australian BioCommons Training Advisory Group. Such initiatives will continue to strengthen links between BioCommons and ELIXIR over the course of this agreement.


The collaboration strategy between ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons promises to identify our international synergies as we partner to tackle our shared challenges in biological research.


I am Director of the Australian BioCommons and A/Prof in the Faculty of Medicine, Densitry and Health Sciences, and the School of Computing & Informatics Systems at the University of Melbourne.

The Future of Community Cloud and State Based Infrastructure Organisations

Mr Michael Boyle1

1Queensland University Of Technology (QUT), Kelvin Grove, Australia

Planned Approach – Facilitated Discussion

Target Audience – State based eResearch Infrastructure Organisations, National Grant Administering bodies (eg ARDC), eResearch groups in institutions,

Background – In the past three years we have seen the collapse and/or significant pressure on state based eResearch infrastructure organisations that, for many years, formed the foundation for the distribution of federal eResearch infrastructure grants. There has also been a turnover of experienced senior public servants in the science and infrastructure domains.  In the last 6 months we have seen a collapse in government revenue and a severe reduction in university revenue.  This situation is unlikely to change in the next two years.  Technology density and pricing has also evolved to a point where bulk purchase arrangements have limited benefit.

Problems/Discussion Points

– Does shared eResearch Infrastructure still deliver benefits?

– Where are state based eResearch Infrastructure bodies heading?

– Under current arrangements are benefits to institutions accumulating unevenly?

– What might a ‘better’ model look like?

– Where is the ‘bang for buck’ for government and institutions?

– Are domain relevant digital services more relevant than infrastructure?

Expected Outcomes

Commencement of a national discussion on the future of eResearch infrastructure and digital services futures that could inform future government funding lobbying.


Michael Boyle is the Associate Director, Service Operations at QUT.  He is responsible for managing and maintaining the infrastructure and applications supporting the operations of Queensland’s second largest university.  This includes working in partnership with the eResearch group to deliver high performance computing and dedicated research data storage.  Previous to higher education Michael worked in technology executive roles in state government.  He is an alternate board member of QCIF.

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