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Schools in Science

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We study the biogeochemical processes at the Earth's surface and the interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and soils. Our research focuses on:

  • Biogeochemical cycling of nutrients and pollutants
  • Geochemistry of rocks, soils, sediments and regolith
  • Groundwater systems and groundwater–surface water interaction
  • Remediation of degraded and contaminated industrial sites and landscapes
  • Sequestration of CO2 in soil carbon and minerals
  • The impacts of human activities on biogeochemical and physical processes
  • Astrobiology and the geochemistry of planetary surfaces

Research Team

Prof Ian Cartwright
Application of geochemical tracers to understand processes in groundwater and surface water systems

Dr Andrew Frierdich
Spectroscopy and isotope geochemistry to understand how biogeochemical processes control the composition of minerals and aqueous fluids on the modern and early Earth. To learn more about Andrew's research, his research team, and their projects, see the Aqueous and Isotope Geochemistry Group website


Dr Simon Jowitt
Soil geochemistry for mineral exploration and assessing the environmental impact of resource extraction.

Dr Bree Morgan
Investigating biogeochemical cycles in soils and sediments with a focus on understanding and facilitating contaminant (i.e. CO2 and trace metals) trapping in minerals. Also see EGEL.


Dr Sasha Wilson
Tracing and tailoring nutrient and contaminant cycling using crystal chemistry and isotope geochemistry with a focus on biomineralisation, astrobiology and sequestration of CO2 and metals.
To see what Sasha and her team are doing see their research group website, "THE EGEL AT MONASH UNIVERSITY" (Environmental Geochemistry Experimental Laboratory).

Dr Vanessa Wong
Land and water management impacts, soil biogeochemical processes,soil-water interactions

Recent Publications

Johnston, S.G., Morgan, B. & Burton, E.D, (2016). Legacy impacts of acid sulfate soil runoff on mangrove sediments: Reactive iron accumulation, altered sulfur cycling and trace metal enrichment, Chem. Geol. 427, 366–376

Frierdich, A. J.; Helgeson, M.; Liu, C.; Wang, C.; Rosso, K.M.; Scherer, M.M.; Iron atom exchange between hematite and aqueous Fe(II) (2015), Environmental Science and Technology, 49 8479-848649 8479-8486,http://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.5b01276

Frierdich, A. J.; Beard, B.L.; Rosso, K.M.; Scherer, M.M.; Spicuzza, M.J.; Valley, J.W.; and Johnson, C.M.; Low temperature, non-stoichiometric oxygen-isotope exchange coupled to Fe(II)-goethite interactions (2015), Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 160 38-54. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2015.03.029

Reddy, T.R.; Frierdich, A. J.; Beard, B.L.; and Johnson, C.M.; The effect of pH on stable iron isotope exchange and fractionation between aqueous Fe(II) and goethite (2015), Chemical Geology 397 118-127397 118-127. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemgeo.2015.01.018

Neumann, A.; Wu, L.; Li, W; Beard, B.L.; Johnson, C.M.; Rosso, K.M.; Frierdich, A. J.; and Scherer, M.M.; Atom exchange between aqueous Fe(II) and structural Fe in clay minerals (2015), Environmental Science and Technology 49 2786-279549 2786-2795. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es504984q

Yuan, F., Li, X.*, Zhou, T., Deng, Y., Zhang, D., Xu, C., Zhang, R., Jia, C. & Jowitt, S. M. (2015). Multifractal modeling-based mapping and identification of geochemical anomalies associated with Cu and Au mineralization in the NW Junggar area of northern Xinjiang Province, China. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 154, 252–264.

Yuan, F., Li, X.*, Jowitt, S. M., Zhang, M., Jia, C., Bai, X. & Zhou, T. (2012). Anomaly identification in soil geochemistry using Multifractal Interpolation: A case study using the distribution of Cu and Au soils from the Tongling metallogenic district, Yangtze metallogenic belt, Anhui province, China. Journal of Geochemical Exploration 116–117, 28–39.

Cartwright, I., Morgenstern U., 2015. Transit times from rainfall to baseflow in headwater catchments estimated using tritium: the Ovens River, Australia. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 19 (9), 3771-3785

Gilfedder, B.S., Frei, S., Hofmann, H., Cartwright, I., 2015. Groundwater discharge to wetlands driven by storm and flood events: quantification using continuous Radon-222 and electrical conductivity measurements and dynamic mass-balance modelling. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 165, 161-177.

Unland, N.P., Cartwright, I., Daly, E., Gilfedder, B.S., Atkinson, A.P., 2015. Dynamic river‐groundwater exchange in the presence of a saline, semi‐confined aquifer. Hydrological Processes. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10525

Wong, W.W., Grace, M.R., Cartwright, I., Cook, P.L., 2015, Unravelling the origin and fate of nitrate in an agricultural-urban coastal aquifer, Biogeochemistry 122, 343-360.

Cartwright, I., Gilfedder, B. 2015. Mapping and quantifying groundwater inflows to Deep Creek (Maribyrnong catchment, SE Australia) using 222 Rn, implications for protecting groundwater-dependant ecosystems. Applied Geochemistry 52, 118-129.

Atkinson, A,P., Cartwright, I.,Gilfedder, B.S., Hofmann, H., Unland, N.P., Cendon, D.I., Chisari, R., 2015. A multi‐tracer approach to quantifying groundwater inflows to an upland river; assessing the influence of variable groundwater chemistry. Hydrological Processes 29, 1-12.

Von Strandmann, P., Porcelli, D., James, R.H., Van Calsteren, P., Schaefer, B.F., Cartwright, I., Reynolds, B.C., Burton, K.W., 2014, Chemical weathering processes in the Great Artesian Basin: evidence from lithium and silicon isotopes. Earth And Planetary Science Letters, 406, 24-36.

Cartwright, I., Gilfedder, B., Hofmann, H., 2014, Contrasts between estimates of baseflow help discern multiple sources of water contributing to rivers. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 18, 15-30.

Faber, P.A., Evrard, V., Woodland, R.J., Cartwright, I., Cook, P., 2014, Pore-water exchange driven by tidal pumping causes alkalinity export in two intertidal inlets. Limnology and Oceanography, 59, 1749-1763.

Unland, N.P.H., Cartwright, I., Cendon, D., Chisari, R., 2014, Residence times and mixing of water in river banks: implications for recharge and groundwater-surface water exchange. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 18, 5109-5124.

Wong, W.W., Grace, M.R., Cartwright, I., Cook, P., 2014, Sources and fate of nitrate in a groundwater-fed estuary elucidated using stable isotope ratios of nitrogen and oxygen, Limnology and Oceanography, 59, Limnology and Oceanography. 1493-1509.

Cartwright, I., Hofmann, H., Gilfedder, B., Smyth, B., 2014, Understanding parafluvial exchange and degassing to better quantify groundwater inflows using Rn-222: The King River, southeast Australia. Chemical Geology, 48-60.

Atkinson, A.P., Cartwright, I., Gilfedder, B., Cendon, D., Unland, N.P.H., Hofmann, H., 2014, Using 14C and 3H to understand groundwater flow and recharge in an aquifer window. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 18,4951-4964.

Goff, A., Huang, J., Wong, V.N.L., Monteiro Santos, F.A., Wege, R., and Triantafilis, J. (2014) Electromagnetic Conductivity Imaging of Soil Salinity in an Estuarine–Alluvial Landscape. Soil Science Society of America Journal 78(5), 1686-1693. [In English]

Huang, J., Nhan, T., Wong, V.N.L., Johnston, S.G., Lark, R.M., and Triantafilis, J. (2014) Digital soil mapping of a coastal acid sulfate soil landscape. Soil Research 52(4), 327-339.

Huang, J., Wong, V.N.L., and Triantafilis, J. (2014) Mapping soil salinity and pH across an estuarine and alluvial plain using electromagnetic and digital elevation model data. Soil Use and Management, n/a-n/a.

Wong, V.N.L., Cheetham, M.D., Bush, R.T., Sullivan, L.A., and Ward, N.J. (2015) Accumulation of sulfidic sediments in a channelised inland river system, southern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, -.

Wong, V.N.L., Johnston, S.G., Burton, E.D., Hirst, P., Sullivan, L.A., Bush, R.T., and Blackford, M. (2015) Seawater inundation of coastal floodplain sediments: Short-term changes in surface water and sediment geochemistry. Chemical Geology 398(0), 32-45.

McCutcheon, J., Wilson, S.A., and Southam, G. (2016) Microbially accelerated carbonate mineral precipitation as a strategy for in situ carbon sequestration and rehabilitation of asbestos mine sites. Environmental Science & Technology, 50, 1419–1427.

Islam, S., Haque, A., Wilson, S.A., and Ranjith, P.G. (2016) Time-dependent strength and mineralogy of lime-GGBS treated naturally occurring acid sulfate soils. Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, 04015077.

Morgan, B., Wilson, S.A., Madsen, I.C., Gozukara, Y., and Habsuda, J. (2015) Increased thermal stability of nesquehonite (MgCO3·3H2O) in the presence of humidity and CO2: Implications for low-temperature CO2 storage. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 39, 366–376.

Low, F., Kimpton, J., Wilson, S.A., and Zhang, L. (2015) Chromium reaction mechanisms for speciation using synchrotron in-situ high-temperature X-ray diffraction. Environmental Science & Technology, 49(13), 8246–8253.

McCutcheon, J., Dipple, G.M., Wilson, S.A., and Southam, G. (2015) Production of magnesium-rich solutions by acid leaching of chrysotile: A precursor to field-scale deployment of microbially enabled carbonate mineral precipitation. Chemical Geology, 413, 119–131.

Wilson, S.A., Harrison, A.L., Dipple, G.M., Power, I.M., Barker, S.L.L., Mayer, K.U., Fallon, S.J., Raudsepp, M., and Southam, G. (2014) Offsetting of CO2 emissions by air capture into mine tailings at the Mount Keith Nickel Mine, Western Australia: Rates, controls and prospects for carbon neutral mining. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 25, 121–140.

Power, I.M., Wilson, S.A., Harrison, A.L., Dipple, G.M., McCutcheon, J., Southam, G., and Kenward, P.A. (2014) A depositional model for hydromagnesite–magnesite playas. Sedimentology, 61, 1701–1733.

Islam, S., Haque, A., and Wilson, S.A. (2014) Effects of curing environment on the strength and mineralogy of lime-GGBS treated acid sulphate soils. Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, 26(5), 1003–1008.

Islam, S., Haque, A., Wilson, S.A., and Ranjith, P.G. (2014) Improvement of acid sulphate soils using lime activated slag. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Ground Improvement, 167, 235–248.

Tait, A.W., Tomkins, A.G., Godel, B.M., Wilson, S.A., and Hasalova, P. (2014) Investigation of the H7 ordinary chondrite, Watson 012: Implications for recognition and classification of Type 7 meteorites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 134, 175–196.

Power, I.M., McCutcheon, J., Harrison, A.L., Wilson, S.A., Dipple, G.M., Kelly, S., Southam, C., Southam, G. (2014) Strategizing carbon-neutral mines: A case for pilot projects. Minerals, 4(2), 399–436.

Recent Grants

Jowitt and Wilson funding from NSW Government Derelict Mines Program for project DM14/04-04 "Primary and secondary mineralogical controls on environmental impacts at the Ottery As-Sn mine, New England Orogen, NSW, Australia", A$8,800 for fieldwork and analysis.

Cook, Swearer, Reich, Walker, Beardall, Cartwright, Mainville, Moulden, Adams, McCowan. Towards a holistic understanding, prediction and management of key ecological values: Fish recruitment and water quality. ARC LP140100087, 2014-2017, $737,000

Werner, Cartwright, Yan. Dynamics and management of riverine freshwater lenses. ARC LP140100317, 2014-2017, $294,000.

Cook, MacNally, Cartwright, Beardall, Santos, Keough, Ross, Coleman, Cinque, Lee, Howe. Can seagrass beds be reclaimed by better management? Catchment effects on the ecological and biogeochemical function of tidal flats. ARC LP130100684, 2013-2016, $453,000

Frierdich, A.J. First evidence for low temperature oxygen isotope exchange and fractionation between crystalline iron oxides and water: Role of biogeochemical iron cycling, United States National Science Foundation, NSF-EAR-PF 1347848, 2014-2015, $174,000 USD

Wilson, S.A.. There must be something in the water: solving the mystery of natural carbon mineralisation in Australian lakes. ARC, DE150100770, 2015–2017. $358,536 (AUD).

Wilson, S.A., Dipple, G.M., Southam, G. Field-based demonstration of enhanced carbon mineralisation to stabilise chrysotile at the Woodsreef mine tailings site, Barraba, NSW. NSW Trade & Investment, Division of Resources & Energy, Mineral Resources, 2015–2016, $29,090 (AUD).

Grano, S., Ottaway, D., Ngothai, Y., Ashman, P., Ebendorff-Heidepriem, H., Hooker, A., Brugger, J., Wilson, S., Pring, A., Hayes, P., Peng, Y., Vaughan, J., Jak, E., Ehrig, K., Spooner, N., Simons, S.. The Australian Copper-Uranium Transformation Research Hub. ARC, BHP Billiton, OZ Minerals and Department of State Development, IH130200033, 2015–2019, $6,776,820 (AUD).

Dipple, G., Hitch, M., Mayer, U., Southam, G., Wilson, S., Wen, J., Thomson, M. Accelerating carbon mineralization in mine waste. Carbon Management Canada, CMC–NCE R3 c-3-090, 2013–2015, $600,000 (CAD).

Wilson, S., Hutchinson, C., Davies, C., Cheng, Y.-B., Zhang, L., Stanford, N., Hodgson, P., Guo, Q., Yang, W.-R., Webb, J., Kamenetsky, V., Wallace, M. An X-ray scattering facility for advanced characterisation of natural and novel materials. ARC and participating universities, LE130100072, 2013, $945,000 (AUD).