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Rock stars visit Benalla

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October 05, 2017

A collection of Australia’s best geoscientists rocked up to Benalla last Wednesday to attend the Granites 2017 symposium at the Glasshouse.

The four-day event attracted some of the field’s leading scientists, who gave formal presentations in-between field trips to some of the region’s most important granite formations.

Keynote speakers included international experts Fernando Bae from the University of Granada and Allen Glazner from the University of North Carolina.

Museum Victoria’s Bill Birch said the symposium had been a big success and the combination of presentations and field trips made it an ideal event for geologists.

‘‘Geologists love field trips and there’s some unique aspects of Victoria we get to see,’’ Dr Birch said.

‘‘We’re in what’s called the Melbourne zone, and the fundamental rocks in the Melbourne zone are sedimentary rocks from the Silurian Devonian period.

‘‘So they’re 300-400 million years old.

‘‘We’ve had some incredible volcanic eruptions about 370 million years ago and they’re concentrated in the Melbourne zone.

‘‘It would have been a very different place back then.

‘‘Australia was part of the supercontinent Gondwana and was much closer to the equator.

‘‘There were about five or six volcanos in the region erupting over a 10 million year period.

‘‘They were big collapsed structures, so big blocks of the crust, about 30km to 40km across collapsed and the magma came up through the fractures and filled the subsidence that was occurring.

‘‘Since that time the main geological process that has occurred is erosion, and that’s what’s given us this landscape.

‘‘So 270 million years ago Benalla would have been at a depth of about 300m below the surface.’’

While areas like Benalla have been eroding for a long time the granite deposits have not, and they are now the Strathbogie and Cobaw ranges.

Being centrally located in the Melbourne zone made Benalla the ideal choice for the event and it attracted local people with an interest in the geology of the area.

Dr Birch said about half the audience for the first day of presentation were geoscientists and about half were locals.

He said it was good to see geology was something that interested the next generation of scientists.

‘‘All kids are interested in dinosaurs, volcanos, crystals and things like that, the big exciting stuff,’’ Dr Birch said.

‘‘If there are any young people in Benalla with in interest in geology I recommend they read as much as they can.

‘‘They should look at different rocks as often as possible. It’s all about familiarising themselves with local rocks to start with.

‘‘If they can find a local expert to help that is perfect. Geologists love showing off, they love taking people out and love showing them interesting things.’’

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