A fabulous geological field trip to Shark Bay

on 26 May 2017 

Bush Heritage was thrilled to again host the annual Curtin University Shark Bay field trip at the Hamelin Outback Station Stay on Hamelin Station reserve. Over the past two decades Curtin University Applied Geology Students have made the trek to the Shark Bay region to examine the geology of the southern Carnarvon Basin.

The students are divided into two groups. The first group arrived at the station and was given an overview of Bush Heritage along with general safety and housekeeping rules before heading off to Carbla Station. Here they explored the waters and the coquina quarry at Carbla Point, an iconic location for stromatolite research on the eastern margin of Hamelin Pool. After snorkelling the wonders of Carbla Point, the students headed back to the Station Stay to set up their tents, eat dinner and enjoy evening lectures.

Day two included exploring an interesting Cretaceous age outcrop on Point Sweeneymia, a headland near Hamelin Station’s northwestern boundary. After a break for lunch, the next stop was at Goat Point, south along the coast. Here, the students examined Pleistocene age Carbla Oolite outcrops, where some even experienced first-hand the hydrophyllic properties of the rock type when the rock hung onto their tongues. Goat Point also included a walk through the living near-shore​ stromatolites. The last stop of the day was at the tourist boardwalk, where we discussed the formation of the stromatolites . The students finished back at Hamelin Station Stay with dinner and evening lectures.

The following day, the first group headed odd to Williambury station and we welcomed in Group Two and ran through the program with them. Also on site was Dr. Graham Phillips (Catalyst, ABC) and Dr. Ved Chirayath (‎Research Scientist, Earth Sciences Division at NASA). The students were fortunate to spend time with both Dr Phillips and Dr Chirayath.

Group Two had an extra day where we were able to travel to Monkey Mia to explore Red Cliff and also dig a hole down into a low-lying Birrida in search for Gypsum. It was a brilliant day, finishing back at Hamelin in time for star gazing. Astronomy guide Phill Witt (Remtrek Astronomy) was visiting in Hamelin and gave an amazing presentation. It was a wonderful finale to the trip.

Similar to last year, I cannot speak highly enough of the students who were so cautious in Hamelin’s delicate environment, and so engaged in learning. The students definitely gained new appreciation for and perspective of modern carbonate environments, while also having the opportunity to better understand/interpret lateral facies juxtapositions. In addition, new research projects have been generated from this trip revolving around neotectonics and hydrology – topics of great significance not only to Bush Heriatge but also in support of World Heritage values.

Thank you Curtin University Applied Geology students - we look forward to seeing you next year!

Dr Erica Suosaari
​Hamelin Marine Science Fellow