Geophysics History

Our History

Geophysics was started at Curtin (then called the West Australian Institute of Technology, WAIT) in 1968 in the Physics Department by Mr Stewart Gunson. Sam Coniglio was the first student to graduate with an Associateship in Geophysics  at the end of 1968. In 1969 the next two third-year students to graduate were Norm Uren and Derek Reuben.

The first Geophysics degrees were awarded in 1972. Mr Norm Uren completed the first Geophysics masters in 1973. The geophysics course at that time was a part of the Physics stream.

The Department of Geology and Geophysics was formed in 1981. A Postgraduate Diploma in Geophysics was started the following year in 1982. Brian Evans was a student and then a lecturer there. After degrees were introduced at Curtin, this course became the Geophysics Honours stream.

The Department of Exploration Geophysics was established in 1989, with Norm Uren as the inaugural head. The first PhD student, Patrick Okoye, graduated from the Department in 1994.

Once established, the Department expanded rapidly in terms of students, staffing and annual turnover and produced the most graduates of any university in the southern hemisphere. At that time we were reputed to be the only specialist Department of Exploration Geophysics in the world (Geotimes, 1998).

In 1998, the Department was designated as a Centre of Excellence for Exploration and Production Geophysics by the West Australian Government.

After a restructure In 2007, the Department of Exploration Geophysics formed one of four departments making up the West Australian School of Mines under the faculty of Science and Engineering.

In January 2018 the Department of Exploration Geophysics was dissolved to become the Discipline of Exploration Geophysics in the newly branded West Australian School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering as part of a University-wide restructure.

We currently provide an undergraduate course in Exploration Geophysics (BSc) and a fourth year Honours program. Postgraduate, Master of Science and PhD courses are also provided. In addition, the Discipline has a large research component that provides the majority of our current funding base.

We continue to be an active participant in several Commonwealth Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs).

The First Geophysics Degree Class, 1973, Geophysics Third Year. Left to Right: (Back Row): Christopher Webster, Eric Mills, Kim Greenham, John Platt, Ken Foster, Dr. John deLaeter (Head, Department of Applied Physics)(Front Row): Mr. Stewart Gunson (First Founding Senior Lecturer), Graham Elliott, John Daniels, Mike Sayers, Steve Baggot, Paul Carter, Trevor Wilson, Mr. Norman Uren (Lecturer)


Department of Exploration Geophysics Timeline
1967–2018

Date Event
1967 Stewart Gunson, from the Bureau of Mineral Resources (Canberra), arrived to establish the Associateship in Exploration Geophysics at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT).
1968  First Geophysics Associateship graduate: Sam Goniglio.
1972 The Associateship in Exploration Geophysics was accredited as a Bachelor’s Degree.
1972/73  First graduates of the Bachelor Degree in Exploration Geophysics.
1974 First Master of Applied Science thesis passed.
1981 The Department of Geology and Geophysics was established within the School of Physical Sciences.
1983 Establishment of The Exploration Seismology Centre.
1987 Director’s Excel Awarded to staff of the Exploration Seismology Centre.
1990  The Department of Exploration Geophysics was formerly established.
1992 1992 Department of Exploration Geophysics became a participant in the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Mineral Exploration Technologies (CRC AMET).
1993 Department of Exploration Geophysics became a participant in the Australian Petroleum Cooperative Research Centre (APCRC).
1994 First geophysics PhD graduate: Dr Patrick Okoye.
1998 Establishment of the Curtin Reservoir Geophysics Consortium (CRGC).
1999 Establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Exploration and Production Geophysics (CEEPG), financially supported by a grant of $750,000 from the Department of  Commerce and Trade.
2001 Department of Exploration Geophysics moved from the School of Physical Sciences into the newly created School of Resource Science and Technology.
2001 Department of Exploration Geophysics became a participant in the CRC for Landscape Environments and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME).
2001 On the 1st of October 2001, the Department of Exploration Geophysics was co-located with CSIRO into the new Australian Resources Research Centre building in Technology Park.
2004 Department of Exploration Geophysics became a participant in The Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gases Technologies (CO2CRC), following the conclusion of the APCRC.
2004 Curtin Reservoir Geophysics Consortium (CRGC) was awarded the prestigious 2004 Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) Distinguished Achievements Award. The award was presented to Professor John McDonald, Founding Director at the October SEG Conference in Colorado in recognition of research in areas that were highly beneficial to the exploration geophysics industry.
2006 Awarded State Government and industry funding for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence in High Definition Geophysics (CHDG) for five years.
2006 Both the BSc (Geophysics) and the BSc (Geophysics) Honours courses were re-accredited by the Australasian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy (AusIMM).
2007 After a restructure, the Department of Exploration Geophysics formed one of four departments in the Western Australian School of Mines under the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
2009 Department of Exploration Geophysics became a participant in The Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DETCRC).
2012 Federal funding was awarded for the building of the National Geosequestration Laboratory (NGL) which the Department of Exploration Geophysics is a major collaborator along with CSIRO and UWA.
2018 Department of Exploration Geophysics became the Stream of Exploration Geophysics in the West Australian School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering after a university-wide restructure.