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Schools in Science


The Monash EAE Structural Geophysics Group has a dynamic group of people with a research focus including geological mapping, tectonic analysis, potential field interpretation, forward and inverse modelling methodology, and geological uncertainty and geodiversity 3D modelling.  We are primarily focused on understanding crustal architecture at all scales and apply our diverse range of research skills to a broad spectrum of important geological problems from the modern and ancient Earth.

What is Structural Geophysics?

"The application of analysis of geological structures and applying these approaches to regional (and local) geophysical datasets".


Our diverse projects include mapping ancient terranes of the Australian continent, Proterozoic plate reconstructions, tectonic evolution of the West African Craton, tectonic and geodynamic evolution of Eastern Gondwana, volcano substrate geometry, evolution of the Red Sea, and dynamics of congested subduction in New Zealand.  Some of our more thematic research includes developing methods to improve effectiveness of geophysical inversion and 3D modelling techniques, as well as mineral system analysis for a variety of ore deposit types.


Our goal is to create a community of geoscientists that are excellent at both geology and geophysics so they can address questions of relevance and importance in the earth science community.  We engage industry and strive to create future science leaders in academia and in the wider geological community.


To view recent conference presentations, reports and images from our research group Click Here.


Professor Peter Betts

Pete’s research areas of interest are:
Geodynamics, tectonics and plate reconstructions
Field structural geology
Structural geophysics
Geophysical signature of ore deposits

My current research projects include:
1.  Tectonic and geodynamic evolution of the Australian plate (e.g. Nuna)
2.  Geodynamics of congested subduction zones.
3.  Ocean initiation and evolution of the Red Sea.
4.  Geophysical siganture an evolution of the MIGA arc and implications for porphyry mineral systems along the Gondwanan margin.

Dr Laurent Ailleres

Laurent’s research areas of interest are:
Tectonics and plate boundaries geometry
Field structural geology
Integration of geological and potential field datasets
Interpretation and processing of aeromagnetic and gravity datasets
Geophysical signature of ore deposits
3D multi-scale geological modelling:  developing the methods, uncertainty characterisation, risk mitigation


Dr Robin Armit

Integration of radiogenic isotopes and
geochemistry with structural geology and geophysics
Structural geophysics
Geophysical signature of ore deposits
Prospectivity analysis and big data
3D implicit and inversion modelling
Effective pedagogical practices in geosciences

Dr David Moore

  • Geophysical interpretation of geological terranes
  • Crustal scale forward modelling
  • Phanerozoic tectonics of Australia

Professor Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson has over 40 years experience on tectonic structures in rocks and economic gold deposits. Chris is currently using a combination of field based structural analysis and geophysical techniques, experiments and numerical models to study deformation in crustal rocks.

Current: ARC Linkage Grant: Advancing Mineral Exploration Models for Orogenic Gold Deposits.

Current: ANSTO, Bragg Institute Neutron Beam Instrument Proposals P4767 Texture characterization in quartz veins using Neutron Diffraction P4768 Gold distributions in quartz veins – using Neutron tomography.


Associate Professor Steven Micklethwaite

Steven Micklethwaite's expertise lies in structural geology, field mapping and minerals exploration, 3D visualisation and the application of drones to geoscience. He is leading the Centre for Resource Science and Technology initiative at Monash, has

Previous research led to the discovery of a hidden gold resource (delivering ~$270M to the Australian economy, Mount Pleasant goldfield, WA) using a technique is now commercialised by Midland Valley in their industry standard Move software package.

Postgraduate Students


Mr David Willis (PhD)

My PhD project aims to reconstruct the location of the North and South Islands of New Zealand over the last ~23 million years. In conjunction field work we are also using numerical models in an attempt to recreate some of the measurements we take from rocks in the field. These models provide an amazing opportunity  to visualise the possible movement of the tectonic plates and the processes which drive changes along the plate boundary. In combining both field studies and numerical modelling we hope to provide new insights into the processes that control the motion of tectonic plates, and how  this plate boundary in turn controls the distribution of mountain ranges, earthquakes and volcanoes.

Mr Lachlan Grose (PhD)

Folds present a challenge for 3D modelling because the information associated with the geometry of the structure is not explicit in the orientation of the folded surface. My research involves characterising the geometry of folds from field observations (orientation of the folded surface, the plane of symmetry of the fold, location of fold closures and the direction of the fold). I use the characterisation of fold geometry to help build a model of the geometry resulting from one or more folding events. I am developing new methods for interpolating the geometry of the folded surfaces as well as methods to build a series of models representing the uncertainty of the geometry of these surfaces.

Ms Helen McFarlane (PhD)

My project aims to unravel the structural and metamorphic evolution of the Sefwi greenstone belt using a multidisciplinary approach. Here, a new litho-structural map is proposed following the integration of structural and metamorphic mapping with the interpretation of regional geophysical data sets. Peak metamorphic conditions recorded by discreet terranes within and adjacent to the belt were calculated using Perple_X, the timing of which is to be constrained with in-situ monazite and titanite dating. Complimentary geochemical and geochronological analysis allows characterization and timing of discreet magmatic events and metamorphic events associated with the Eburnean Orogeny. The holistic approach of this project will provide insights into geodynamic processes responsible for the cratonisation of the West African Craton during the Palaeoproterozoic.

Mr Jackson Van den Hove (PhD)

My research focuses on the Newer Volcanics Province of south-eastern Australia, which is an intraplate basaltic plains province that has been active from 4.5 Ma until 5 Ka and includes over 434 individual eruption centres. The project involves the use of geophysical modelling and spatial analysis methods toward investigating structures, controls and dimensions of features on the scale of individual eruption centres up to that of the entire province.

Mr Matthew Sisson (PhD)

My project aims to understand the transition from continental rifting to oceanic spreading using the Red Sea as a test site. By creating high resolution 3D models perpendicular to the axis of rifting in the Red Sea, I hope to understand the geological history of the rift and how the system progresses from a continental rifting to oceanic spreading and the formation of new oceanic crust.

Mr Ashley Van Krieken (PhD)

In my project I am applying high resolution gravity and magnetic data to characterise Cambrian porphyry deposits at depth in Western Victoria.  Various techniques and models using both synthetic and field collected data will be used to identify core structural features allowing determination of placement orientation, potential mineralised areas and to test the sensitivity of geophysical techniques in respect to mineral zonation.  My data will be used to test various tectonic models proposed for the Late Cambrian, Delamerian Orogeny in Western Victoria; compare and contrast responses of these Cambrian porphyries with younger porphyry mineral systems; and develop a potential set of guidelines and techniques to improve exploration for porphyries deposits under cover.

Ms Erin Carswell (MSc)

My study focusses on the structural and stratigraphic architecture of the Palaeo-Mesoproterozoic Central Curnamona Province and controls on copper mineralising processes through time. It involves using new detailed geophysical datasets (gravity and magnetics) and recent exploration drilling data to refine our geological understanding of the Central Curnamona Province as well as to geophysically and geochemically characterise the copper mineralisation styles present. Outcomes will be applicable to the exploration industry and will provide insights into how best to target copper mineralisation under cover in Palaeoproterozoic Australian terranes

Mr Lucas Holden (PhD)

My research focus is on the use of GPS to measure ground deformation at the Okataina Volcanic Centre in New Zealand and investigate if the source of this deformation is volcanic, tectonic or hydrothermal or a combination of these. To this end, this research also uses numerical modelling to examine the ground deformation patterns that might occur related to renewed volcanic activity.

Ms Casey Blundell (PhD)

Current Research Programs

  • Paleoproterozoic Tectonics/Geodynamics
  • Western African Geodynamic Evolution (WAXI – P934B)
  • Modern Geodynamics (Red Sea / New Zealand)
  • Geological Modelling method (structural implicit modelling)
  • Uncertainty characterization / exploration risk mitigation
  • Mineral systems at the crustal / belt scaleGeophysical signature of ore deposits
  • Structural controls on ore deposits

Industry Supported programs

  • AMIRA P934B – WAXI (with UWA + consortium of Exploration/Mining companies members of AMIRA)
  • ARC Linkage Grants:
    • LP140100267 Reducing 3D geological uncertainty via improved data interpretation methods (with UWA; GSWA; Western Mining Services)
    • LP150100717 Advancing Mineral Exploration Models for Orogenic Gold Deposits
    • Developing a Tectonic Framework for the Gawler Craton:  Paving the Way for Successful Mineral Exploration Programs
    • LP0882000 Unearthing the Marginal Terranes of the South Australian Craton: Keystone of Proterozoic.
  • Honours/MSc supported research projects (2 x Glencore/MIM; Northern Star, 2 x MMG, Wentworth Resources, Syrah Resources, Navarre Minerals, Newmarket) in 2015-2016.
  • ANSTO, Bragg Institute Neutron Beam Instrument Proposals P4767 Texture characterization in quartz veins using Neutron Diffraction P4768 Gold distributions in quartz veins – using Neutron tomography.

Academic International Collaborations

  • University of Toulouse (France)
  • Surveys:  Canadian Geological Survey;  GNS; BRGM
  • King Abdulah City for Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia)
  • University of Texas
  • GoCad Research Group (University of Lorraine, Nancy, France)
  • Australian Antarctica Division

Recent Publications

  • Betts, P. G., R. J. Armit, J. Stewart, A. R. A. Aitken, L. Ailleres, P. Donchak, L. Hutton, I. Withnall, and D. Giles (2015), Australia and Nuna, Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 424.
  • van den Hove, J. C., L. Ailleres, P. G. Betts, and R. A. F. Cas (2015), Subsurface structure of a large basaltic maar volcano examined using geologically constrained potential field modelling, Lake Purrumbete Maar, Newer Volcanics Province, southeastern Australia, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 304, 142-159.
  • Armit, R. J., L. Ailleres, P. G. Betts, B. F. Schaefer, and T. N. Blaikie (2014), High-heat geodynamic setting during the Palaeozoic evolution of the Mount Painter Province, SA, Australia: evidence from combined field structural geology and potential-field inversions, Geophysical Journal International, 199(1), 253-275.
  • Blaikie, T. N., L. Ailleres, P. G. Betts, and R. A. F. Cas (2014), Interpreting subsurface volcanic structures using geologically constrained 3-D gravity inversions: Examples of maar-diatremes, Newer Volcanics Province, southeastern Australia, J Geophys Res-Sol Ea, 119(4), 3857-3878.
  • Blaikie, T. N., L. Ailleres, P. G. Betts, and R. A. F. Cas (2014), A geophysical comparison of the diatremes of simple and complex maar volcanoes, Newer Volcanics Province, south-eastern Australia, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 276, 64-81.


May 2016 Faculty of Science Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision Award- Laurent Ailleres


Laurent Ailleres is a Senior Research Fellow for School Of Earth Atmosphere & Environment. His PhD projects focus on the Geodynamics of the Western African Craton, field structural geology, integration of geological and potential field datasets, interpretation and processing of aeromagnetic and gravity datasets, orogenic processes, 3D crustal architecture, 3D geological modelling and uncertainty and Geodiversity.

Laurent’s innovative supervision practices rely on transferring skills through critical thinking and discovery, nurturing and curiosity. Laurent is a leader and co-founder of the Monash Structural Geophysics group which has created a diverse (gender, cultural and nationality) environment whereby innovative, lateral and critical thinking amongst his students can occur. He motivates his students during regular meetings and is generous with his time. Laurent also encourages his students to teach and demonstrate in lab sessions and during field based courses, believing this to play a crucial role in developing the student as a future teacher, researcher and leader in Industry.

He determines to find the best supervisory teams for each student and is a champion of the co-tutelles with the University of Toulouse. Laurent has encouraged his students to form international collaborations, exposing his students to a diverse scientific culture and he encourages his students to publish their results and attend conferences. Laurent’s supervision style has prepared students for employment with Industry and Government organisations and many of his projects have Industry support. Laurent’s passion for training the next generation of Earth Scientists is equally matched by his commitment to the whole student, of which Dr Laurent Ailleres student well-being is paramount.