The School of Earth and Planetary Sciences has a wide range of facilities available for Applied Geology and Spatial Sciences students, staff and researchers.

View the facilities for the Western Australian Organic & Isotope Geochemistry Centre


Applied Geology

Researchers in Applied Geology have access to an impressively wide range of state-of-the-art research facilities, equipment and expertise to support world-class research. Many of the available analytical facilities are part of the John de Laeter Centre of Mass Spectrometry.

Analytical equipment and facilities

Sensitive High Resolution Ion Microprobe (Shrimp) Facility

Curtin houses two SHRIMP II ion microprobes used for in situ isotopic analysis with a spatial resolution of 5-30 micrometers. Their main use is U-Th-Pb geochronology of accessory phases such as zircon, monazite, baddleyite and xenotime.

More information: John de Laeter Centre website

Thermal Ionization Mass Spectometry (TIMS) Facility

The TIMS facility incorporates Thermo Finnegan Triton™ and a VG 354 multicollector mass spectrometers for precise isotopic measurements.

More information: John de Laeter Centre website

AGOS - Geohistory Laser Ablation Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) Facility

The Geohistory laser ablation ICPMS facility is part of the John de Laeter Centre for Mass Spectrometry, is funded via the AuScope AGOS EIF program and is housed in Applied Geology and is used for a variety of in situ isotopic and elemental analyses, including U-Pb dating and trace element analysis of accessory phases.

Facility Leader / contact: Associate Professor Noreen Evans
Physical location: Building 312, Room 116, Bentley Campus
Training requirements: Contact Facility Leader
Booking and usage costs: Contact Facility Leader

West Australian Argon Isotope Facility (WAAIF)

The WAAIF Facility utilises the 40Ar/39Ar dating method to measure the age and timing of a large variety of geological processes, from meteorite samples as old as the Earth (4.5 billion years) to the age of historical events such as the Vesivius eruption (79 AD).

More information: John de Laeter Centre website

(U-TH)/He Thermochronology Facility

The CSIRO/JDLC (U-Th)/He Facility provides thermal history analysis of a range of geological systems by integrating several age-dating capabilities along with 4D thermal modelling.

More information: John de Laeter Centre website

Ultra-Trace Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectometry

The ACE facility houses a state-of-the-art High Resolution Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS, Thermo ELEMENT2) for the analysis of hyper-trace concentrations of elements including rare earth elements (REE) in liquid samples (aqueous samples, acid digestates).

More information: John de Laeter Centre website

X-ray Diffraction (XRD) Facility

This state-of-the-art equipment has the capabilities to measure ion and isotope concentrations at the atomic scale, and is due to be commissioned in 2015.

More information: John de Laeter Centre website

Electron Microscopy Facility (EMF)

This facility houses three scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), including a W-filament Zeiss EVO 40XVP, a dual beam Zeiss NEON 40EsB FIB-FESEM, and a state-of-the-art Tescan Mira3 FESEM, and a JEOL JEM2011 transmission electron microscope. The SEM soffer integrated imaging and quantitative characterisation capibilities that include secondary electron imaging, backscatter electron imaging, cathodoluminescence imaging, Oxford Instruments electron backscatter diffraction, transmission kikuchi diffrcaction and energy dispersive x-ray analyses, and focussed ion beam milling.

More information: John de Laeter Centre website

Experimental Petrology Laboratory

This Facility is used to conduct petrological experiments at a variety of temperature and pressure conditions.

Technical specifications:Piston Cylinder Apparatus, Autoclaves
Manager / contact: Dr Katy Evans / Dr Kirsten Rempel
Physical location: Building 312, Room 308, Bentley Campus
Training requirements: Contact manager
Booking and usage costs: Contact manager

Western Australia Palaeomagnetic and Rock Magnetic Facility

This facility is used to determine the magnetic properties and remanence vectors in rocks for use in geochronology, palaeomagnetic continental reconstructions, and magnetostratigraphy.

Technical specifications: Lodestar Magnetics magnetostatic shielded room housing a 2G 755 superconducting rock magnetometer with vertical automated sample handler, AF demagnetiser, and susceptibility meter (the RAPID system), a second 2G 755 cryogenic magnetometer with automated AF demagnetiser, an AGICO JR-6A spinner magnetometer, and numerous thermal demagnetisers. Outside of the shielded room are a Petersen Instruments Variable Field Translation Balance (VFTB), AGICO MFK-1FA Kappabridge (with susceptibility-temperature capability), and Magnetic Measurements MMPM5 pulse magnetiser.
Curtin contacts: Professor Zheng-Xiang Li, Dr. Josh Beardmore
Physical location: Building 206, Rooms 209 & 210a, Bentley Campus
Training requirements: Contact manager
Booking and usage costs: Contact manager

Organic Geochemistry Facility

This facility boasts an array of instruments used for biomarker, petroleum and water studies.

More information: John de Laeter Centre website

Sedimentary Laboratory

The sedimentary laboratory has equipment for analysis of sedimentary rocks.

Manager / contact: Dr. Moyra Wilson
Physical location: Building 312, Room 103, Bentley Campus
Training requirements: Contact manager
Booking and usage costs: Contact manager

Other Equipment

Applied Geology owns several other pieces of equipment that are available to researchers.

Contact: Mr Andrew Wieczorek
Technical Specifications: Desktop scanning electron microscope; Hand-held Gamma Ray Spectrometer (Radiation Solutions Inc. RS-125 super spec GRS); Hand-held Permeameter (TinyPermII); portable petrol-powered rock coring tool.

Computing facilities

Pawsey Centre/IVEC Supercomputing Facility

The Pawsey Centre is a 1000 square metre purpose-built data centre at the Western Australian Technology Park in Kensington. The facility, situated on land adjacent to the Australian Resources Research Centre. It is owned by CSIRO, managed by iVEC, and is accessible by researchers at Curtin University. Through its location on Curtin University’s Bentley Campus, it enables Curtin’s research community to conveniently have access to a wide range iVEC’s expert staff.

More information: Pawsey Centre website

Seismic Interpretation Facility

We have a suite of high specification seismic interpretation workstations running Petrel, Kingdom and Techlog allowing for the interpretation and visualization of 2D and 3D seismic and well log data, principally for petroleum geoscience research.

Technical specifications:Four powerful, high-RAM workstations. Software: Petrel 2013; Techlog 2013; Kingdom 8.8
Manager / contact: Professor Chris Elders
Physical location: Building 314, Room 168, Bentley Campus
Training requirements: Training for using the software can be arranged on an individual user basis. Contact the manager for further details.
Booking and usage costs: The equipment is free to use, but if you would like to make use of it, you must first consult Chris Elders so that projects can be properly set up and computer time allocated.

Support laboratories and facilities

Rock and Sample Preparation Laboratories

A range of rock saws are available to suit most geological sample preparation needs.

Technical specifications:Several rock trim saws, LAPRO 24 inch slab saw, Buehler IsoMet 1000 precision saw, jaw crushers, grind wheel, Struers Planopol-V polishing equipment, Buehler Vibromet II colloidal silica polisher, Ultrasonic bath, Emitech K950X evaporative carbon coater.
Manager / contact: Mr Andrew Wieczorek
Physical location: Building 312, Rooms 120B, Bentley Campus
Training requirements: Training for using the equipment and laboratory health and safety are provided on an individual user basis. Contact the manager for further details.
Booking and usage costs: No booking required for trained users. A charge of $10 per carbon coat applies to cover lab consumables. No other charges apply.

Mineral Separation Facility (including Selfrag)

Commissioned in 2014, this facility provides full mineral separation and sample preparation services for in situ isotope analysis. It houses the Australian Research Council LIEF-funded Selfrag – an electrical pulse dissagregation system.

Technical specifications:Jaw crusher, disc mill, Selfrag Mk.II electrical pulse dissagregation system, Frantz magnetic separation system, Wilfley table gravity separator, heavy liquid separation equipment, grain mount preparation equipment
Manager / contact: Adin Sehic
Physical location: Building 312, Rooms 119 / 117 / 113 / 120c, Bentley Campus
Training requirements: Contact manager
Booking and usage costs: Contact manager

Optical Microscopy Facility

This facility comprises petrographic microscopes with photographic and digital imaging systems for characterising rock samples and binocular microscopes for picking mineral grains and preparing samples for chemical analysis.

Technical specifications:Nikon LV100 Pol and Leica DFC290 Digital Imaging Systems, x2 Leica M60 stereo binocular microscopes
Manager / contact: Dr. Nick Timms
Physical location: Building 312, Rooms 113 / 114, Bentley Campus
Training requirements: Training for using the equipment and laboratory health and safety are provided on an individual user basis. Contact the manager for further details.
Booking and usage costs: No booking required for trained users. No charges apply.

Advanced Ultra-clean Environment (ACE) Facility

The Advanced Ultra-Clean Environment (ACE) Facility has been designed to accommodate a new level of ultra-clean sample processing for mass spectrometry.

More information: John de Laeter Centre website

Spatial Sciences

Equipment and facilities

Spatial Sciences Landgate Studios

The Spatial Sciences Landgate studios are available for students use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

These purpose-built Spatial Science student areas consist of three computer studios (total of 60 computers with access to a wide range of specialised software), a student common room and a computer area.

The design of the studios allows for easy interaction and collaboration between students and between academic staff and students, very similar to many work environments.

Spatial Sciences Lecture Room

Spatial Sciences has its own purpose-built teaching area for use by its staff and students.

Facilities include projecting facilities, audio and video conferencing and recording facilities to allow staff to video and record lectures. Most lectures are available for viewing by students via the internet. All other lectures not scheduled for the Spatial Sciences Lecture Room are scheduled in various lecture theatres/rooms with similar facilities throughout the campus.

Research Rooms

The four main research areas have their own research student laboratories/project rooms.

The four main research areas, GNSS, Geodesy, GIScience, Remote Sensing, and Photogrammetry and Laser Scanning have their own research facilities to enable research students to work quietly alongside fellow students with similar research interests.

Surveying Equipment (for teaching purposes)

Surveying and Mine and Engineering Surveying students are required to use surveying equipment during their practical/fieldwork classes from the first semester of their first year.

The surveying equipment in use by Spatial Sciences is currently some of the most up-to-date equipment available. This greatly contributes to the students being industry-ready upon graduation.

Major surveying equipment for teaching: 
Total StationsSokkia Set 530RK3

Sokkia Set 1X

Data RecordersSokkia Allegro

Trimble TSC3
GNSSSokkia GSR27001SX

Sokkia 2650LB

Trimble R10

Mobile Mapper 100

Mobile Mapper CE
Digital LevelsLeica
Optical LevelsLeica NA720
Gyro StationsSokkia
Access to Cavity Monitoring System

Photogrammetry and Laser Scanning Equipment

Equipment in this area include the Leica C10 laser scanners as well as specialised software.

There is also a MDL Dynascan 5250 mobile scanner available for use by research staff, research students and those students specialising in the photogrammetry and laser scanning field.

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Equipment

The GNSS Research Group uses the latest in GNSS equipment to conduct its research.

Key equipment includes a GSS670 Multi-GNSS Simulator and a range of advanced multi-GNSS receivers. The Group also make use of the most advanced specialised software including Geo++ Software.


Similar to the surveying equipment in use, the latest software is made available for student use to assist them in being industry-ready when they graduate from their courses.

Major software available for student and research use:

  • 3DM Analyst
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • ArcGIS
  • ArcServer
  • Australis
  • Civilcad MAGNET
  • Cyclone
  • ERDAS Imagine
  • Geoida
  • Microresearch Geolab PX5
  • Microstation and add-on: Cadscript
  • MOVE3
  • PostgreSQL
  • PyCharm
  • Python 2.7 + PythonWin
  • Sokkia Spectrum Survey
  • Surpac
  • Trimble Business Centre
  • WingID

Western Australian Organic & Isotope Geochemistry Centre

Thermo gas chromatography – isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-irMS)

Two Thermo Delta V Advantage irMS, with Trace GC Ultra, GC IsoLink and Conflo IV. Compound-specific stable isotope analysis of many organic compounds in complex mixtures (petroleum, VOCs, plant media, fractions from ancient sediments, modern lake samples through to food products) through combustion to CO2 (for δ13C) and or δ15N or high temperature conversion to H2 (for δD). GC Isolink allows easy switching between δ13C/ δ15N and δD measurements. ConFlo IV allows for sample and reference gas dilution. Isodat software provides automatic peak integration and calculation of isotope ratios.

IsoPrime gas chromatography – isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-irMS)

Micromass IsoPrime irMS with HP 6890 GC and custom-built furnace. Compound-specific stable isotope analysis of hydrocarbons through combustion to CO2 (for δ13C) or reduction to H2 (for δD). Configurable for gas and liquid injections. Gas GC allows stable isotope analysis of gas-range hydrocarbons.

Two-dimensional gas chromatography with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GCxGC-TOF)

LECO Pegasus 4D with Agilent 7890G GC. Uses two different GC columns to perform comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (e.g. separation by boiling point and then polarity). Allows separation of compounds which would co-elute in first dimension, far greater peak resolution for complex mixtures. Cryogenic modulator focusses eluent from primary column onto secondary column. Rapid TOF-MS detector allows mass spectral identification. ChromaTOF software produces comprehensive 2D chromatographs, and automatic peak identification and integration.


Thermo LTQ Orbitrap XL. LC-MS analysis of polar and high molecular weight biomolecules and biomarkers, such as GDGTs and porphyrins. Tandem mass spectrometry to identify parent-daughter ion fragment relationships.

Gas chromatography – inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (GC-ICPMS)

HP 5890 GC coupled to a Thermo Neptune Multicollector ICP-MS through a heated transfer line. Allows compound-specific δ34S measurement of organic compounds – only the third such setup worldwide. After organosulfur compounds are separated by GC, ICP applies a hot plasma to degrade organic compounds into their constituent atoms, including S. Stable isotopic measurements are made directly on atomic S ions (32S+ and 34S+). The instrument belongs to and is located at The University of Western Australia. The WA-OIG has collaborative access to it.

Gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS)

HP 6890 GC coupled to a 5973 MSD. For routine analyses of biomarkers in sediments and soil extracts/fractions, saturated, aromatic and polar hydrocarbons in petroleum, extracts from extant organisms (plants, algae, corals, stromatolites) and phospholipid fatty acid and sterol analyses. Multiple injection systems including liquid injections and pyrolysis methods: split/splitless injector with autosampler or manual injection for liquid samples, cool on-column injector, micro-scale sealed vessel (MSSV) pyrolysis system, flash pyrolysis, pyroprobe.

Gas chromatography – mass spectrometry with Gerstel autosampler system (GC-MS)

6890N GC, 5973N MSD, Gerstel MPS2 autosampler system. Provides automated solid phase micro extraction (SPME), stir bar sorptive extraction (SBSE), purge and trap thermal desorption (PT/TD), and closed loop stripping analysis (CLSA).

Gas chromatography – mass spectrometry with chemical ionisation source (GC-MS)

Agilent 7890A GC with 5975C MSD. Can be equipped with electron ionisation (EI) or chemical ionisation (CI) source, with methane or ammonia.

Gas chromatography – flame ionisation detector (GC-FID)

HP 6890 GC. Used for routine analyses of biomarkers in liquid samples. Split/splitless injector with autosampler or manual injection for liquid samples.

Thermal desorption unit (TDU)

Markes Unity TDU for the analyses of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in air samples. VOCs are adsorbed onto a resin inside sampling tubes. The tubes are placed into the TDU to release the analytes. The unit can also be linked to a GC-irMS for the 13C/12C and D/H measurements of VOCs.

Automated preparative gas chromatography system (Prep GC)

Agilent 7890A GC with Gerstel PFC Preparative Fraction Collector. Separation of complex mixtures by GC, and trapping of one or more components for further analysis. Cryogenic trap collects one or more peaks eluting from GC column, allowing isolation / purification of products from complex mixtures.

High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)

Agilent 1100 series HPLC with a variety of detectors: UV (DAD), synchronous fluorescence, refractive index. For analysis of polar contaminants and biochemicals.

Liquid chromatography – tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS)

Agilent 1100 series HPLC coupled to a Micromass Quattro Ultima Triple Quadrupole MS. For analysis of polar contaminants and biochemicals. Tandem mass spectrometry (MS-MS) allows for measurement of parent-daughter ion transitions, allowing for identification of unknown analytes.

Elemental analyser (EA)

Thermo Flash 2000. Bulk stable isotope analysis (13C/12C, D/H, 15N/14N) of whole biomass, kerogens, drugs, tea, gunshot residues, olive oil, extracts, oils, fractions (saturates, aromatics and polars). Furnaces can be configured to allow for δ13C, δ15N and δD measurements. Dual measurement feature measures δ13C and δ15N in a single run.

Hydropyrolysis (HyPy)

Strata Hydropyrolysis system. Uses high temperatures and hydrogen pressure to break down macromolecular organic matter into smaller molecules amenable to GC analysis. Mo catalyst assist in breaking down macromolecular organics. High hydrogen pressures and dry ice trap prevent isomeration of fragment molecules. Useful

Microwave extractor

Milestone Start E microwave extraction unit. Microwave-assisted extraction of organic matter from sediments and soils. Six large-volume cells fit 10-15 g of sample material each. Controllable extraction temperature measured by fibre optic sensor.


Eppendorf 5810 centrifuge for separation of solid and liquid samples. A range of adaptors allow the use of a variety of different-sized centrifuge tubes.


Dionex SE 500. Evaporates solvent using high-purity nitrogen gas. Allows for heating and agitation of samples.

Freeze drier

Christ Alpha 1-2 LD plus freeze-drier, for sediments and other solid samples. Water removal without heating avoids thermal degradation of samples.

Rotary evaporator (Rotovap)

Stuart RE 300. Rapid evaporation of solvents from organic extracts and fractions under vacuum.

Sample preparation equipment

Gemmasta GC10 rock saw for cutting of rock samples. Rocklabs Standard and Benchtop ring mills for grinding rock samples to powder for trace organics.