New research centre 560 million years in the making

Reg Sprigg AO in the Flinders Ranges

Reg Sprigg AO in the Flinders Ranges
Full Image (213.2K)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The legend of a South Australian geologist, explorer and environmentalist will live on in a new research centre being launched at the University of Adelaide tomorrow night (Thursday 8 November).

The Sprigg Geobiology Centre, part of the University's Environment Institute, is named in honour of pioneering scientist Reg Sprigg AO (1919-1994).

Reg discovered the first geologic evidence for ancient animals in 560-million-year-old rocks found in the Ediacaran Hills of South Australia's Flinders Ranges. These early fossils provide our primary insight in to how and why the first complex life on Earth evolved and prospered.

Reg was a pioneer of the integration of geology and biology in both fundamental and applied science, and played an important role in the establishment of South Australia's oil and gas industry. He led the first motorised expeditions through the Simpson Desert, revolutionised deep-sea exploration off Australia's coasts and founded the major energy companies in the State.

"Reg was fascinated by the natural world around him. He saw the world as one whole system where everything functioned together, and therefore he was constantly trying to understand those linkages," says Reg's daughter, Marg Sprigg.

"Although he wouldn't think he deserved such a fuss made, Reg would be honoured to have this Centre named after him and proud to be associated with the work that the Centre is doing," Marg says.

The new Sprigg Geobiology Centre at the University of Adelaide draws on Reg's legacy by also integrating across the scientific disciplines of geology and biology to address both fundamental scientific questions, such as the history of life on this planet, as well as applied scientific challenges including resource sustainability and climate change.

Professor Martin Kennedy, Inaugural Director of the Sprigg Geobiology Centre, says: "Biological and geological processes are intertwined and act together to control the habitability of our planet. The Sprigg Centre provides the opportunity for specialists from different disciplines to come together and sort out these interactions.

"As an interdisciplinary group unique in Australia, we seek to address not only why Earth came to host complex life forms, but the more pressing practical issues facing society including resource distribution and changing climate. These also are also controlled by geological and biological interactions that we currently do not understand adequately.

"However, because the earth has seen many cycles of climate change in the past, the answers are preserved in the earth's geologic record. It's up to us as scientists to interpret and understand what this record is telling us."

The official launch of the Sprigg Geobiology Centre will be held on Thursday 8 November at the SA Museum.


Contact Details

Professor Martin Kennedy
Director, Sprigg Geobiology Centre; Environment Institute
Discipline of Geology & Geophysics; School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5378
Mobile: +61 (0)428 002 556

Adriana Russo
Marketing and Communications Officer
Environment Institute
The University of Adelaide
Business: 08 8313 3670
Mobile: 0422 210 189