2009 Dorothy Hill Medal Winner

Mr John Draper
John Draper's Citation

Over a career spanning more than 35 years, John Draper has made a major contribution to the understanding of Queensland geology, particularly the sedimentary basins and their coal and hydrocarbon potential. His publication record is impressive, and he is an active member of various professional societies associated with the geosciences, including the Geological Society of Australia.


Dr Gregg Webb (left) and Mr John Draper (right) at the Awards Night.
In 1971 John graduated from the University of Queensland with majors in geology and chemistry and Honours in geology. His thesis formed part of a joint study on the Recent sediments of the Great Sandy Strait (between Fraser Island and the mainland). After a short stint of National Service in the Australian Army, where he qualified as a 2nd Lieutenant, he joined the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra in 1973. His work at the BMR was mainly focussed on sedimentological, geochemical, and stratigraphic studies in the GeorginaBasin, where he worked with Ed Druce, John Shergold, and Bruce Radke among others. He also undertook geochemical studies of playa sediments in Lake Frome.

In 1978 he joined the Geological Survey of Queensland, where he was appointed to the Petroleum Section. He was involved in project work, including stratigraphic drilling, as well as field training of other GSQ staff in sedimentology. His work concentrated particularly on the Denison Trough in the southwestern Bowen Basin. During this period he also participated in the compilation of the Bowen Basin Solid Geology map (published in 1988), the first map to be compiled digitally by the GSQ.

Over the next 10 years he held various management roles, the titles of which reflected the changing structure of the GSQ. In 1986, he was appointed as Acting Assistant Director in charge of the Regional Mapping Section, and, in addition to his management roles, he contributed to mapping in the Burdekin and Clarke River Basins. In 1987 he became manager of the Biostratigraphy Subprogram, and in 1989, when it was merged into the basin Studies Program, became a Principal Geoscientist, and then Acting Head/Principal Geologist in the Petroleum and Coal Branch.

One of the major achievements of his career came during the period 1993-1997, as Project Leader of the joint AGSO-GSQ North Queensland Project, when he oversaw with John Bain the compilation of the North Queensland Geology Volume (issued in 1997 as AGSO Bulletin 240/Queensland Geology 9). This landmark publication - by a multitude of authors - brought together the results of 25 years work by the two organisations in north Queensland.

Subsequently he returned to basin research, and from 1997-1999 managed the Cooper-Eromanga Project as Principal Geoscientist. In 1999 he was promoted to the position of Geoscience Manager of the Hydrocarbon Geoscience Group, which ultimately became the Energy Geoscience Group. In 2008 his career took another turn and he accepted the position of Director of the newly formed Carbon Geostorage Initiative, the position he currently holds.

John’s geoscientific studies have seen him undertake analysis of the majority of Queensland’s sedimentary basins (Georgina, Bowen, Burdekin, Cooper, Eromanga, Drummond, ClarkeRiver, and Adavale) and his knowledge of these is second-to-none. He also has undertaken resource studies on the coal and petroleum potential of these basins, as well as on the Surat, Belyando, Galilee, Carpentaria, and Laura basins, as well as offshore basins in the Coral Seaarea. He has also reviewed the statewide coal-seam gas and oil shale potential.

Apart from these studies he has also found time to undertake groundwater research, geochemistry of Proterozoic sedimentary rocks at Georgetown (his M.Sc thesis through James Cook University), and has provided advice on the building stones used at St Stephens Cathedral and The Mansions in Brisbane and the Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach.

In the last few years he has become an expert on Geothermal Energy, having conducted a statewide assessment of its potential, and with his team has made a preliminary assessment of the potential of all of the state’s basins for Carbon Storage.

In addition to his duties as a researcher and manager, he has also been an active member of various societies. He was a member of the executive committee of the Geological Society of Australia Queensland Division, through the 1980s and 1990s, serving as Treasurer (1985-86) and Vice-Chair (1994-95), Chair (1995-96) and Past-Chair (1996-97). He also served as Session Convenor at the Permian Symposium (1982-83), Bowen Basin Coal Geology Symposium (1985), and 9th AGC (1987-88), as well as serving on field conference committees.

He is a member of the Australasian Sedimentologist Group and has served as Chair (1986-88) and was convenor of the Broken River Field Conference (1987). He is also a member of the Coal Geology Group and Australasian Association of Palaeontologists. He is also a member of Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia and is a committee member of the Queensland Branch as has previously served as President and Secretary of the branch.

John has published approximately 60 papers and reports, as well as 27 extended abstracts, 23 short abstracts in conference proceedings, 10 unpublished GSQ or BMR records, and has contributed to 17 map sheets.

John’s knowledge of the stratigraphy, structure and tectonics of Queensland’s sedimentary basins is unsurpassed, and he is always willing to share his knowledge both to colleagues and clients.