Past GSAQ medal recipients - image courtesy GSAQ

2019 Dorothy Hill Medal Winner

Dr Laurie Hutton
Dr Laurie Hutton's Citation

Laurie Hutton has authored 40 reports or papers as sole or senior author on Qld geology and is a co-author of a further 36. He has contributed to 26 1:100 000 maps and seven 1:250 000 maps. As this record and the following summary of his career show, Laurie is a worthy nominee for the Dorothy Hill Medal.

Laurie graduated with a BSc (Hons) from the University of Qld in 1973, his Honours thesis being on the Lawn Hill area around the Silver King mine, later the site of the Century mine. After graduation, he joined the Geological Survey of Qld (GSQ). Although initially being involved in some of the local mapping in the Caboolture and Ipswich–Brisbane 1:100 000 sheet areas, his experience in the Lawn Hill area resulted in him being assigned in 1975 to the joint Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR)–GSQ party led by Ian Sweet and working in the northern part of the Mount Isa Province. Laurie then worked in the Mount Oxide and Mammoth Mines area in a combined party with Geoff Derrick and others from GSQ and BMR. Although the field work was completed in 1978, writing up continued for some years, and Laurie’s association with the Mount Isa Province continued for the rest of his career.

Laurie Hutton (front) making his acceptance speech.

In 1982, with the GSQ taking over the primary mapping role in Qld from BMR, Laurie was part of a GSQ party in the Atherton–Mossman area and had the responsibility of mapping the southern part of the Atherton 1:250 000 sheet area through to 1984.

In 1985, GSQ decided to set up the logistics to operate in remote areas away from major towns, and Laurie was assigned to lead a party of junior geologists mapping the Mount Coolon area south of Charters Towers. This work was completed in 1986, and subsequently GSQ set up a base in Charters Towers to support its field geologists in the Townsville hinterland. Laurie was party leader and worked with Ian Rienks and Simon Crouch to firstly map the Ravenswood Batholith and later the Lolworth Batholith. This work was in collaboration with a large team of other GSQ geologists, like Ian Withnall, Simon Lang, Tim McLennan and Mark and Leanne Gunther, who studied other aspects of the region. Laurie’s work in this area continued until about 1995, but he also contributed to work in the Anakie area.

From 1996 to 1999, Laurie was part of a team with Ian Withnall, Bob Bultitude, Friedrich von Gnielinski and Ian Rienks mapping a 500-km-long belt in eastern Qld between Cracow and Mackay comprising the Auburn and Connors subprovinces This impressive undertaking was assisted by airborne geophysics, which had now became a routine part of GSQ projects.

Towards the end of this time, Laurie enrolled in a PhD under Professor David Gust at the Qld University of Technology following up the work that he had done on the Lolworth Batholith. His PhD was awarded in 2004.

In the meantime, he had returned to his Mount Isa roots and was a key contributor in the Northwest Queensland Mineral Province Study conducted in 2000 by the GSQ in conjunction with Taylor Wall and Associates, SRK Consulting Pty Ltd and ESRI Australia. It compiled a large data package, including a geographical information system and the first attempt at a solid geology of the region, and had the specific intention of identifying exploration targets for industry.

In 2002–2003, Laurie worked with Ian Withnall in reinterpreting the geology of the Georgetown and Charters Towers regions, combining the newly available airborne geophysics and their first-hand knowledge from fieldwork over several decades.

Between 2001 and 2008, following on from the Northwest Queensland Mineral Province Study, the Predictive Mineral Discovery Cooperative Research Centre (pmd*CRC), which was a consortium from academia, industry and government, had a large project component in the Mount Isa region. The work of the pmd*CRC was at the forefront of research related to mineral exploration both in Australia and overseas and represented cutting-edge studies into mineral deposits. Once again, Laurie’s involvement was invaluable providing his knowledge of regional geology and geodynamic settings and crustal architecture of the Mount Isa Province, particularly the Western Succession. He was also able to call on his extensive field experience in the region to contribute to studies in other areas in the pmd*CRC, such as fluid and chemical sources and reservoirs, fluid pathways, and deposition and hydrothermal processes.

Following on from the pmd*CRC and with geophysics newly acquired by GSQ to complement other industry data, GSQ embarked on a four-year project under Laurie’s leadership to revise the mapping of the Mount Isa Province and extend the solid geology under adjacent cover. Mapping was focused on areas where there were obvious conflicts between existing mapping and the geophysics. The results of this work were incorporated into a new Northwest Queensland Mineral and Energy Province report and formed the basis of the chapter on the North Australian Craton in the Geology of Queensland volume published in 2013.

Laurie has always been ready to adapt new technology and was one of the first in GSQ to use airborne geophysics as a mapping tool. With officers from Geoscience Australia (GA), he helped put together the proposal to conduct deep seismic profiling across the Mount Isa Province that led to the program of reflection profiling there in 2006, and later between Mount Isa and Georgetown in 2007.

Throughout his career, Laurie has always been able to develop key contacts with senior staff in the exploration industry, as well as other state geological surveys and GA. In 2013, Laurie took on the role of Acting Manager Exploration Attraction in the GSQ, using his interpersonal skills and industry contacts to great advantage.

In 2014, he returned to Mineral Geoscience Group as Principal Project Manager Minerals and was involved in managing contracts for provision of services by external researchers as part of GSQ funding initiatives, as well as mentoring GSQ geologists new to the geology of the Mount Isa Province. He commenced a project to study the mafic rocks of the province and their possible contribution to metallogenesis.

Laurie retired from GSQ in April 2019. His contribution to the knowledge of Qld geology over his 45-year career with GSQ is profound. Although he will be best remembered for his work in the Mount Isa Province, his contributions to the hard-rock geology of eastern Qld has also been significant. He has always been keen to collaborate with researchers from a diverse range of institutions and eager to provide guidance and advice by sharing his knowledge with academic and industry colleagues alike.

The Medal was presented to Laurie at the GSA Qld Division technical meeting on 23 July, which was attended by about 40 of his colleagues.