Australia's International Neighbourhood

Whole of School Seminar Program Schedule:

Date Name Title Location Time
Thursday, September 21 Prof Anthony Reid (ANU)

Neighbouring the 'Ring of Fire': Future dangers in the light of history


New Law School Lecture Theatre 024 1-2pm
Thursday, October 5 Prof Anthony Capon (USYD) Planetary Health: A new science for exceptional action Madsen Conference Room 449 1-2pm
Thursday, October 19 Joanna Parr (CSIRO) Mineral resources on the seafloor – A new industry for the SW Pacific? Madsen Conference Room 449 1-2pm
Thursday, November 2 Alex Sen Gupta (UNSW) Climate projections for the Tropical Pacific region Madsen Conference Room 449 1-2pm

Mineral resources on the seafloor - A new industry for the SW Pacific?


Increasingly people are talking about the ocean floor as the ‘next minerals frontier’ in terms of its mineral resource potential. As terrestrial mineral deposits become harder to find, less accessible to their market (particularly in the case of bulkier products such as building sand) and technologically more challenging to extract, it is almost certain that we will turn our attention to the relatively unexplored sea floor as a source of new resources/reserves. Indeed, new discoveries, particularly in the SW Pacific, of a range of mineral deposit types, together with improved knowledge and technologies for exploration, are adding a touch of reality to this interest. It has been suggested that 5% of the world’s metals (including Co, Cu and Zn) could come from the seafloor by 2020, generating A$7.5 billion and this could rise to 10% (up to A$15 billion) by 2030. In addition, the resource potential for Mn from nodules is globally estimated at over US$1 billion.

There are clear economic opportunities for a seafloor exploration and mining industry, particularly for some of the smaller nations of the SW Pacific. But, despite the growing interest, we still know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the ocean floor. Seventy percent of Earth is covered in water, so exploration of the ocean floor is difficult, expensive and time consuming: less than 0.05 percent of the ocean floor has been mapped to a level of detail useful for detecting items such as airplane wreckage or the spires of undersea volcanic vents. There are still many unanswered questions and high levels of uncertainty surrounding the likely nature of a marine mining industry, the technology required and the potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.


Joanna has been with CSIRO since 1993 when she joined the Seafloor Ore Systems research group to investigate hydrothermal vents in the Bismarck Sea. After a stint working with the CSIRO Oceans Flagship, she is now back with Mineral Resources and leads the Ore Deposit Geology Group. Joanna continues to have interest in marine geology, in particular the ore deposits associated with seafloor hydrothermal systems, as well as the integration of a range of geological skills to understand ore deposits at the whole-of-system scale.
Jo is a keen orienteer, sailor and any other kind of sport that allows you to get muddy, wet and/or chase balls with your friends!


Planetary Health: A new science for exceptional action - Prof Tony Capon


By most measures, human health is better now than at any time in human history. However, these gains in human health have been unequally distributed and have come at the high price of degradation of natural systems on a scale never before seen in human history. Published in 2015, the Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on Planetary Health report Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch concludes that the continuing degradation of natural systems threatens to reverse the health gains seen over the last century. In short, we have mortgaged the health of future generations to realise economic and development gains in the present. Anthropogenic global changes–including climate change, ocean acidification, land degradation, water scarcity, biodiversity loss and toxic pollution of air, water and ecosystems–have direct and indirect health impacts. The consequences for future health are far reaching, ranging from increasing emergence of zoonotic diseases, food insecurity and malnutrition, to conflict and displacement. Those who are least responsible for driving these changes–poor people in developing countries–will be most vulnerable to their consequences. Put simply, planetary health is the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends. Humanity can chart a safe, healthy and prosperous course ahead by addressing unacceptable inequities in health and wealth within the environmental limits of the Earth however, to do so, will require the generation of new knowledge, the implementation of wise policies, decisive action, and inspirational leadership.


Tony Capon is professor of planetary health in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney. A former director of the global health institute at United Nations University (UNU-IIGH), Tony is a public health physician with research interests in urbanisation, sustainable development and human health. Previously, Tony held professorial appointments at Australian National University and the University of Canberra. He was the founding convenor of the climate change adaptation research network for human health in Australia and currently leads the Adapt NSW Human Health and Social Impacts Node, jointly funded by the Office of Environment & Heritage and Ministry of Health.

Please find a link below to a 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.

View video here

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