Process-oriented reconstruction of Proterozoic basin evolution in North Australia

Understanding how sedimentary basins formed in the past


The basins of northern Australia include several cycles of Proterozoic basin formation including the Calvert, Leichardt and Isan Superbasins, as well as a number of compressional orogenic events.

The evolution of this region is well recorded in the sedimentary basins including the McArthur and Mount Isa regions, with a variety of sedimentary and tectonic environments recorded, including rift, platform and sag basins, and their reactivation and tectonic deformation during compressional orogenesis.

These basins are also well-covered by geophysical data that image the present day structure and characteristics of the basins, including the thicknesses of sedimentary packages, their physical properties and the nature of the crust beneath. Existing “geotransects” include collocated data including seismic reflection lines, gravity, magnetic and magnetotelluric data.


This project will seek to reinforce this knowledge by undertaking process-oriented reconstruction of the basins’ structure through time, focusing also on environments for ore deposit formation.

As part of this project the successful PhD applicant will:

  • Devise workflows for process-oriented basin reconstruction with geological and geophysical data
  • Apply these to the Northern Australian region, characterizing the quality of their model results
  • Characterise the formation processes of the basins, as indicated by these geotransects
  • Translate the key processes into element of ore-deposit formation models


Research team leader: Dr Alan Aitken 

I am a geophysicist and tectonicist with experience in crustal and lithospheric-scale modelling and geologic interpretation. I have worked extensively in Australia, putting together the pieces of its 3D jigsaw, including defining the vertical and horizontal development of the crust and lithospheric mantle. I also pursue research in other regions of the world and for several applications.

The project is to be co-supervised by an inter-disciplinary team of excellent researchers.

Collaborations and Funding

  • The ARC linkage project is a collaboration between the CET at UWA, the State Government and industry sponsors.
  • Project sponsorship is finalised. Scientific collaborators may contact research team leaders


  • This project is supported by the $2M, ARC linkage project Evolution of Proterozoic multistage rift basins – key to mineral systems. Funding awarded from 2020 to 2024.


How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project:

  • You will have a strong background in either Geology or Geophysics disciplines
  • You will be willing to learn quantitative numerical and spatial analysis methods.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.