Ancient soils & semi arid environment

Soils and regolith can be viewed as a thin zone where the Atmosphere, the Biosphere, the Hydrosphere and the Lithosphere overlap and interact. This outer layer of Earth has recently been referred to as the 'Critical Zone' that sustains most terrestrial life.

The Australian Critical Zone Observatory.

The Soil Science discipline within the School of Earth and Environment at UWA is in the process of building up Australia's first CZO at the UWA Future Farm at Pingelly, WA. Lead by Asst/Prof Matthias Leopold and A/Prof Deirdre Gleeson various initiatives have been started to build capacity for the observatory.

UWA hosted the first international workshop in Australian on Critical Zone science. Experts from over 15 different countries gathered at Perth to discuss the values and necessary steps to establish CZOs in Australia.

Key note speakers during workshop: Prof Oliver Cadwick (USA), Prof Dan Murphy (AU), UWA Dean Prof Tony O’Donnel (AU), A/Prof Deirdre Gleeson (organizer), Major General the Hon. Michael Jeffery (AU), Prof em. Lyn Abbott (AU), Prof Stephe Banwart (UK), A/Prof Matthias Leopold (Organizer), Dr Tim White (USA), Prof em. Bob Gilkes, (AU)

In February 2015 the UWA-CZO hosted the inaugural Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) summer school focussing on “critical zone science and climate change”. Matthias Leopold, Deirdre Gleeson (both UWA) Steven Banwart (Univ. Sheffield) together with many colleagues from UWA led 19 PhD students on a 2 week field trip to the UWA-CZO including subsequent writing retreat. Topics targeted included the specific composition of the southern hemisphere critical zone architecture with its ancient weathering profile and soils and the implications for water availability in an agricultural context. The whole project was funded by WUN and the US-National CZ-office (US-NSF funded).

Sponsors and collaborating universities for workshop and summer school: