Geology Postgraduates Win Awards

02 December 2011


School of Environment postgraduate geology students had triple success at this year’s annual Geoscience Society Conference held in Nelson, with one, David Dempsey taking out the major prize of $2500 which he is able to use towards attendance at the 2012 International Geological Congress in Brisbane.

The winners were:

Best Student Oral presentation: David Dempsey et al., The role of frictional plasticity in normal fault evolution.

2nd place Best Student Poster: Megan Baddiley et al., Rock mass characterization and numerical modeling of coastal cliff failures in weak rocks in the Auckland-Region.

The Hastie Award (an award given to support MSc research):
James Conway, Origin of sulphides found in drill cores and their potential effects on groundwater chemistry at the Martha Au-Ag Mine, Waihi, New Zealand.
Research Objectives: Analysis of a series of investigative drill cores taken from around the constructed perimeter of the tailings storage facility at Martha Mine has identified the presence of sulfides (pyrite) in some of the cores. Core logging also revealed the presence of organic matter. As groundwater monitoring from sites not associated with the tailings storage facility suggest background levels of iron in the region are elevated, a key question this research will seek to answer is whether the pyrite is sourced from hydrothermally altered volcanic rocks that were used as construction materials or from pyrite that grew in situ. This will be achieved by using a combination of (1) sulfur isotope analysis of the pyrite, (2) microscopic analysis of the morphology of the pyrite crystals, and (3) geochemical analyses of the pyrite by electron microprobe analyses. The microscopy work will look for the presence or absence of framboidal pyrite, a crystal morphology shown to be related to microbial deposition of pyrite. It will also provide information on other mineral inclusions in the pyrite crystals and the extent and rate of weathering of the crystals.

Other research objectives include:
• Determining the reactivity of the sulfides.
• Any potential effects the sulfides may have on the local groundwater system.

The outcome of this investigation is expected to provide the source and likely release rate of iron into shallow groundwaters around the perimeter of the Martha Mine Tailings Storage facility.


Congratulations to all these students.