Researcher

Professor David Ronald Cohen

My Expertise

Mineral exploration, environmental geology, creationism-evolution debate.

Fields of Research (FoR)

Exploration Geochemistry, Geology

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Biography

I am President of the UNSW Academic Board.  From 2008-2016 I was head of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Deputy President of the Academic Board. My main research interests are in geochemistry with a focus on exploration methods for mineral deposits. I have been involved in research projects in North America, Indonesia, Europe, PNG, Pakistan, Iran and, of course, Australia. I led the Geochemical Atlas of...view more

I am President of the UNSW Academic Board.  From 2008-2016 I was head of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Deputy President of the Academic Board. My main research interests are in geochemistry with a focus on exploration methods for mineral deposits. I have been involved in research projects in North America, Indonesia, Europe, PNG, Pakistan, Iran and, of course, Australia. I led the Geochemical Atlas of Cyprus. I am President of the Australian Geoscience Council.

Education

  • BSc 1983 (Sydney) in Geology
  • MSc 1986 (Queen’s) in Geochemistry
  • PhD 1990 (UNSW) in Geochemistry
  • FRSN, FAAG, FAIG, MAICD

RESEARCH

My Research Goals

Develop better methods of geochemical exploration, especially in areas containing deep cover.

Investigate the use of biogeochemistry and selective chemical extractions in both exploration and contaminant detection.

Implement regional geochemical mapping programs in various parts of the world.

Evaluate various approaches to processing geochemical data with a view to separating "signals" related to either the effects of mineralisation or contamination from other processes or effects.

My Research in Detail

My research group examines the relationships between the geochemical characteristics of the surficial environment (soils, sediments, vegetation) and parent material, with a focus on the development of geochemical methods suited to mineral exploration in a variety of environments. This extends from mapping and trying to understand geochemical patterns in various sampling media at scales ranging from mineral deposits to entire countries.

Current Student Projects (PhD and Honours)

  • Eric Chen (PhD candidate) - Use of Na carbonate salts from CSG production on acidiferous and metallic drainage
  • Joe Schifano (PhD candidate) - Biogeochemical mapping of the Cobar Basin (supported by the MineEx CRC)
  • Wilson Gewargis (MPhil candidate) - Geochemical dispersion form Cu mineralisation in Cyprus
  • Erica Guo (Hons candidate) - Detection of buried mineralisation at Copper Hill

Past

  • Behnam Sadeghi (PhD candidate) - Geochemical anomaly detection methods
  • Iain Dalrymple (PhD) - Optimisation of selective geochemical extraction methods.
  • Alex Cherry (Hons) - Paragenesis of gold-sulphide mineralisation in the Wyoming One and Caloma Two deposits, Tomingley, NSW.
  • Ricky Li (Hons) - Cobaltiferous pyrite mineralogy, Railway deposit, Thakaringa.
  • Carlos Constantinou (Hons) - Application of factor analysis in characterising the effects of acid mine drainage on regolith in Cyprus.
  • Angela Lay (Hons) - Platinum group element mineralisation, Timor Leste.
  • Ryan Lagaida (Hons candidate) - Biogeochemistry at Copper Hill, NSW
  • Hugo Floyd (Hons candidate) - AMD issues in the Drake area
  • Dayna McGeeney (Hons) - Gold Distribution within the Kiriwina Formation, Woodlark Island, Papua New Guinea.
  • Ahmad Reza Mokhtari (PhD) - Geochemical dispersion through transported regolith.
  • Mira Van der Ley (Hons) - Mineralogical controls on the speciation of heavy metal contaminants in urban soils.
  • Morteza Jami (PhD) - Genesis of the Esfordi phosphate deposit, Iran.
  • Madeline Sutton (Hons) - Practical application of field portable XRF for mapping the effects of contamination on vegetation at Woodlawn, NSW.
  • Kiah Ostowari (Hons) - Biogeochemical mapping at Sunny Corner.
  • Oliver Delves (MPhil) – Gold mineralisation in the Woods Point Dyke Swarm deposit, Victoria.
  • Patrick Bryant (Hons) - Regolith and biogeochemical mapping Lady Annie area, QLD.
  • Emma Cohen (Hons) - Cobalt dispersion in the secondary environment at the Thackaringa cobaltiferous pyrite deposits, Broken Hill, NSW.
  • Juee Vohra (MPhil) - Biogeochemistry of Sunny Corner Ag-Pb-Zn deposit, NSW
  • Ksenia Chistyakova (MPhil) – Mapping of structures using soil helium patterns.
  • Angela Lay (PhD) - Geochemistry of selected silver deposits in NSW
  • Justin da Costa (Hons) - Use of siderophile organic chelants to release fossils from Fe matrices
  • Hamid Zekri (PhD - co-supervisor at IUT) - Multivariate data methods in detecting buried miernalisation

Supervision Opportunities/Areas

Ongoing analysis of the very large set of soil samples collected as part of the Cyprus Atlas project.

Geochemical dispersion in the weathered zone for a range of mineral deposits in various landscapes from the arid to the tropical.

Mapping urban metal contamination.

Otherwise.... come and talk to me about projects you would be interested in undertaking!  UNSW does have a large array of analytical facilities.

Advice for prospective students

PhD or MPhil students should think about the research topic that you would like to undertake and then talk to me or others in the group about details. In essence it is your project to design, implement, present (at conferences) and write up. For BSc(hons) students we can provide more assistance with things.

Whereas I have supervised a number of different styles of project over the years, my preference is probably a project that gets you into the field (especially in remote and interesting localities).

TEACHING & OUTREACH

Courses I teach

GEOS3141 - Mineral & Energy Resources

GEOS3281 - Environmental & Contaminant Geochemistry (Course Coordinator and main lecturer)

GEOS1111 - Fundamentals of Geology (economic geology section)

Professional affiliations and service positions

  • President of the Academic Board and member of UNSW Council
  • President of the Australian Geoscience Council
  • Formerly Head of School, Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Past-president of the (International) Association of Applied Geochemists and symposium coordinator
  • UNSW nominee on the Board of New College
  • Chair of Academic Board and member of Governing Board for Moore Theological College
  • Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Fellow of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists

My Grants

1.              Title:

 

Chief investigators:

DR Cohen; JA Schifano

Role in Project:

Co-Lead investigator

Source and Scheme:

MinEx CRC, plus direct funding from company consortium of GSNSW, Peel Mining, Aurelia, 3E Steel, Golden Cross Resources and Cleantec

Commencement date:

Jun-19

Duration:

2 years

Total Amount AUD$:

$60,000 from MinEx CRC (cash); ~$60,000 in-kind support for analytical work

   

2.              Title:

 

Chief investigators:

DR Cohen

Role in Project:

Sole investigator

Source and Scheme:

RGS Environmental Ltd; contract research

Commencement date:

Apr-16

Duration:

2 years

Total Amount AUD$:

$14,820

   

3.           Title:

 

Chief investigators:

R Arculus, MB Clennell, DR Cohen (and CIs from 12 other organisations)

Role in Project:

Chief Investigator

Source and Scheme:

ARC, LIEF (LE160100067)

Commencement date:

Jan-16

Duration:

5 years

Total Amount AUD$:

$10,000,000

   

4.              Title:

 

Chief investigators:

CR Ward (lead), DR Cohen, SJ Kelloway; C Marjo

Role in Project:

Co-chief investigator

Source and Scheme:

ACARP

Commencement date:

Apr-15

Duration:

2 years

Total Amount AUD$:

$157,400

   

5.              Title:

 

Chief investigators:

DR Cohen

Role in Project:

Co-supervisor of students

Source and Scheme:

Society of Economic Geologists Foundation, Graduate Student Fellowship GSF 15-20/ 15-22

Commencement date:

Apr-15

Duration:

2 years

Total Amount AUD$:

$11,320

   

 

 

6.              Title:

 

Chief investigators:

IT Graham, DR Cohen

Role in Project:

Co-chief investigator

Source and Scheme:

PT Coy Ltd, contract research

Commencement date:

Feb-15

Duration:

1 year

Total Amount AUD$:

$11,470

   

7.           Title:

 

Chief investigators:

M Aubert, AB Baker, … IT Graham, DR Cohen (and CIs from 15 other organisations)

Role in Project:

Chief Investigator

Source and Scheme:

ARC, LIEF (LE140100023)

Commencement date:

Jan-14

Duration:

1 year

Total Amount AUD$:

$360,000


My Qualifications

BSc (Hons), Sydney University, 1983

MSc, Queen's University Canada, 1986

PhD, UNSW, 1990


My Awards

Fellow of the Association of Applied Geochemistry (international association), 2000

Fellow of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists, 2015

Silver Medal of the Association of Applied Geochemists, 2015

Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales, 2017


My Research Activities

Biogeochemical methods in mineral exploration and general regional mapping.  Selective extractions in palaeontology. Use of field-portable analytical methods.

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Location

Room 202, Chancellery Building

Contact

+61 2 9385 3010