[Aqualist] Geological Society of Australia Selwyn Symposium 2009
cupper at unimelb.edu.au
Mon Jul 13 16:31:57 EST 2009
The Geological Society of Australia Victoria Division
cordially invites you to the
SELWYN SYMPOSIUM 2009
Thursday 24 September 2009
Fritz-Loewe Theatre, McCoy Building, School of Earth Sciences, The
University of Melbourne
Origin of the Australian Highlands
The apparently quiescent continent of Australia lies near the middle of a
plate yet there are many mountain ranges and highlands, in particular along
the eastern seaboard. The origin and timing of these enigmatic features has
been subject to considerable debate, ever since Andrews* (1910) assigned a
Pliocene (5-2 million year old) age to the Southeastern Highlands - the
"Kosciuszko Uplift event". Some researchers suggest that most highland
relief was present by the Cretaceous. Others believe Cainozoic uplift
created most of the mountains. This symposium brings together leading
researchers in thermochronology, geochronology, stratigraphy and
geomorphology to discuss the timing and nature of uplift in southeast
*Andrews E.C., 1910. Jl. of the Proc. Royal Soc. NSW 44, 420-480.
Prof Mike Sandiford, Melbourne University (Plenary address) - "Tectonic
signals in an ancient landscape"
Dr Max Brown, Canberra - "Cenozoic tectonics and volcanism and major changes
in drainage and divides in southeast Australia - the Shoalhaven catchment
and other examples"
Dr Ian Duddy , Geotrack International - "Origin of the Australian Highlands"
Prof Andrew Gleadow, Melbourne University - "Low temperature
thermochronology and the origin SE Australian Highlands - seeing an elephant
in the dark?"
Dr Paul Green, Geotrack International - "Why are there mountains in
southeastern Australia, or Norway, or West Greenland, or Brazil, or
Scotland, or ...... ?"
Dr. Guy Holdgate, Melbourne University - "No mountains to snow on -
palaeoenvironments of the deep lead valleys in a low-altitude peneplain -
today Victoria's highlands"
Assoc Prof Bernie Joyce, Melbourne University - "The origin and development
of the West Victorian Uplands: a different story to the rest of the
Prof Ian McDougall, ANU - "Constraints on the evolution of the SE Australian
Highlands from K-Ar dating of basalts"
Prof Cliff Ollier, Univ. of Western Australia - "Overseas Analogues of
Eastern Highland Morphotectonics"
Dr Colin Pain, Geoscience Australia - "Morphology of the Eastern Highlands
and Implications for Landscape Evolution"
Dr Ian Roach, ANU - "Mesozoic-Cenozoic volcanism in eastern Australia and
its implications for long-term landscape evolution"
Prof Graham Taylor, Canberra University - "Geomorphic evidence for highland
movement from the Monaro and far north Queensland"
Mr Fons Vandenberg, DPI Victoria - "Evidence for major mid-Cretaceous uplift
of the Eastern Uplands"
Assoc Prof John Webb, Latrobe University - "The significance of peneplains
in the uplift history of the Southeastern Australian Highlands"
8.30 am Registration
9.00-5.30 pm The Selwyn Symposium - 20- to 25 minute presentations from
invited speakers with morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea
6.30-7.00pm The Selwyn Medal Presentation: an award given to members of the
Victorian Geological community for their contribution to any field of
Selwyn Lecture @ the JH Michell theatre - Richard Berry Building 6.30pm by
Professor Cliff Ollier, University of Western Australia, see abstract below:
"Theories of the Earth and Mountain Building"
Stephen Gallagher, Guy Holdgate, Martin Norvick & Malcolm Wallace, Selwyn
Symposium organizing committee
The Selwyn Symposium of the Geological Society of Australia (Victoria
c/- Associate Professor Stephen Gallagher School of Earth Sciences, The
University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010.
BOOKING FORM for the Selwyn Symposium on Thursday 24 September 2009: I/we
wish to attend & enclose a cheque for $............. payable to The
Geological Society of Australia (Victoria Division). Credit Card payment
below if preferred.
Cost: $120 for full delegates; $50 retirees; $20 for full time students (all
costs GST inclusive).
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Expiry Date: _ _ / _ _
Please select the event you wish to attend:
I/we will be attending the Selwyn Symposium [ ]
I/we will be attending the FREE Selwyn Lecture [ ] (RSVP:
sjgall at unimelb.edu.au to guarantee a seat)
I/we wish to go to the Selwyn Dinner @ 8.15pm [ ] for $65 (GST inclusive);
2 course dinner at Graduate House (Melbourne University see map above)
places limited, booking essential.
Selwyn Lecture 2009:
Theories of the Earth and Mountain Building
Ideas on how mountains are made have always been associated with ideas on
how the Earth works. Once it was thought that the Earth was shrinking, and
it was believed that fold mountains were created in the way that crinkles
appear on the skin of a shrivelled apple. When continental drift came
along, it was proposed that as the Atlantic Ocean opened, the western drift
of the American continents ploughed into the Pacific making the mountains of
Western North America and the Andes in South America. At present the ruling
theory is Plate Tectonics. The Earth is thought to be covered by a number of
plates and mountains form where the edges of plates collide. Mountains that
are not located at plate edges are said to be formed in the same way but
It must be remembered that mountains are topographic features they are
high. All these theories assume the vertical movement of mountain uplift is
a secondary effect of horizontal forces, a hypothesis that may not be
necessary at all. And from early times arguments have been flawed by the
basic idea of fold mountains¹: it is assumed that the same forces that
folded the rocks also made the mountains. This is a false correlation. Many
mountains occur on unfolded, horizontal rocks, and in many other mountain
regions it is known that the folding of rocks occurred very much earlier
than the uplift of the mountains.
These mountain building ideas are theory-based. What if we start with facts
about actual mountains and try to derive a theory from the facts? Today we
have vastly superior information about the topography of mountains than was
available to early theorists, and analysis of the data suggests that in most
mountain regions there was an early plain, which was uplifted to form a
plateau, and the plateau has been eroded to various degrees to make rugged
mountains. In many areas any folding of rock is earlier than the formation
of the plain that was uplifted.
Another important problem is that many mountain regions are in regions of
crustal tension compression need not be involved in the uplift of the
A very important discovery is that many of the mountains on Earth are
remarkably young in geological terms. A million years might seem a lot to
the average man, but in geology it is very little, yet we repeatedly find
that mountains are just a few million years old not on the same scale as
the commonly postulated tens or hundreds of million years of seafloor
spreading and plate movements. We are living in a Neotectonic Period.
All the old theories of the Earth fail to explain what we know about form,
distribution and age of mountains. It is time for a paradigm shift.
Professor Ollier graduated from Bristol University, where he got his first
job as Demonstrator in Structural Geology, and eventually gained a D.Sc.
He has lectured at over 100 universities, and taught Geomorphology at
Melbourne University from 1959 to 1966. He has visited every continent,
studied mountains in many countries, and climbed some big ones including
Ruwenzori, Elgon and Chimborazo. He is the author of many articles and books
including Tectonics and Landforms, Volcanoes, and The Origin of Mountains.
Associate Professor Stephen Gallagher
Treasurer, Geological Society of Australia, Victoria Division
GPO Box 2355V
School of Earth Sciences
The University of Melbourne
( Ph: +61 3 8344 6513 ( Fax: +61 3 8344 7761
: Email: sjgall at unimelb.edu.au
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