Two fully funded PhD opportunities in Geology associated with the Murujuga Rock Art Monitoring Project

Two PhD scholarships in Geology (Igneous Petrogenesis, Planetary Science) are available at Curtin University, Perth, WA, associated with a multi-year, State Government funded, interdisciplinary project monitoring the preservation of ancient petroglyphs of the Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago of Western Australia's Pilbara coast. The PhD project funding covers stipend, field work, analytical and publication costs.

Project background

The Murujuga Rock Art Monitoring Project is developing best-practice strategies to detect and monitor natural and anthropogenically-driven weathering and degradation of culturally significant indigenous rock art, for which the area is proposed for World Heritage site status. The project is developing an environmental quality management framework to protect the rock art for future generations. Major project partners include Curtin University and the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation.

Preliminary work has shown that the geochemical and textural characteristics of the patina that hosts the rock art are dependent on the microbiome, organic geochemistry of the rock surface, and on the geochemistry and textural characteristics of the underlying fresh and partially weathered rock.

Host rocks to the carvings are components of the Gidley Granophyre, a Neoarchean intrusive complex exposed over 100 km2 and up to 2 km thick. The principal rock-types include granophyre, gabbro and dolerite, and are well-exposed but poorly characterised geochemically and isotopically, and poorly understood in terms of petrogenesis and origin.

Project 1: Geological history of Murujuga. This project will involve a vertical transect through the sub-volcanic intrusion, undertaking detailed geochemistry to characterise the range of rock compositions, extent of magmatic differentiation and country rock assimilation, mapping of rock relationships, selected sampling for geochronology, and petrogenetic modelling.

Project 2: Origin of granophyre. This project will focus on Gidley granophyre from a planetary science perspective. This project seeks to evaluate the hypothesis of an origin for Gidley granophyre from melting caused by meteorite impact. The project involves a mineralogical, petrological, microstructural, and geochemical study of the Gidley granophyre, along with other granophyre occurrences from global meteorite impact and non-impact sites.

Selection criteria

We are seeking highly motivated, results-driven PhD candidates capable of working independently and as a part of the multidisciplinary Rock Art Monitoring team. The successful applicants will conduct research using the state-of-the-art analytical facilities at Curtin University, undertake field work internships with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, and work in collaboration with partners from the Geological Survey of Western Australia. Candidates should demonstrate excellent communication skills and cultural awareness to facilitate achievement of the research outcomes. Prior experience in mineral characterisation using optical and electron-beam techniques, geochemical and isotopic techniques will be highly regarded and should be addressed in the application.

Eligibility criteria (essential)

Applicants must fulfil all eligibility requirements for admission into Higher Degree Research at Curtin University.

  • The applicants must have a BSc Honours (1st class) or Master (by research) in Earth Sciences (geology, geochemistry, igneous petrology, mineralogy) by the time of appointment.
  • The applicants must meet the University's English language requirements.

How to apply

Applicants are invited to select a preferred project from the two sub-projects.

Applications should contain:

  • CV and copies of academic transcripts
  • a one-page statement that addresses the selection criteria and a rationale for the preferred choice of the project
  • contact details of two referees.

Complete applications should be submitted via e-mail to Professor Pete Kinny ( (Project 1, titled: Geological history of Murujuga), or to Associate Professor Aaron Cavosie ( (Project 2, titled: Origin of granophyre).

The deadline for applications is Monday August 29.

Late applications will be considered if the positions have not been filled. Only shortlisted candidates will be invited for an online interview. Successful applicants will be informed about the enrolment processes at Curtin University. It is expected that the successful applicants will start as soon as possible, considering visas and travel arrangements.

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posted: 04 August 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.