Innovation Week 2012 - GeoScience Australia World Wind Tour and Tsunami Simulator

As part of Innovation Week’s “Inspire Me Safari”, GeoScience Australia (GA) hosted three behind the scene tours on 5 June 2012 at 10am, 12pm and 2pm.

Tour participants were treated to a demonstration of how GA’s extensive data can be used to make maps that inform policy development, particularly regarding land use. Maps included three-dimensional images that show the depth of various minerals and also the depth of various earthquakes. These images are presented in a special theatre that uses modern three-dimensional glasses and projection technology to create a three-dimensional image.

GA staff also demonstrated a new tool that they are developing which uses the motion of a user to change the image on the screen. A small device records the user and identifies the hands in particular, which can then be used to zoom or move the map in a similar manner to a touch screen. This innovative interface will be particularly useful in making the work of GA more interesting to younger audiences.

The tour concluded with a demonstration of Australia’s Tsunami Early Warning System that was established following the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. The system detects earthquakes from around the world and operates off a global network of sensing buoys that can detect significant changes in waves. The tour then witnessed a demonstration of how the system operated during the Japanese Tsunami last year.

The tour brought to life the amazing diversity and pace of change that is happening just below the surface of our planet. It demonstrated the educative power of using innovative interfaces and presentation tools even when we are studying phenomena as ancient as the Earth. The other lesson for me was that Earthquakes are a lot more common than you may think - around the world there were more than ten earthquakes yesterday, including a couple of very small ones in Australia!

These tours will be conducted again as part of GA’s annual Open Day on Sunday 19 August during National Science Week.