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Straight-A student wins earth science scholarship - 19/04/2000

A straight-A geology student with a special interest in the oil and gas potential of the North Island’s East Coast has won a prestigious earth science scholarship.

Alexandra Johansen, who gained a first class honours degree in geology at Victoria University last year, headed off graduates from earth science faculties from throughout New Zealand to win the Sarah Beanland Memorial Scholarship.

The award is made annually to a top earth science graduate who, in the view of the judges, is likely to make a significant contribution to earth sciences in New Zealand.

Funded by the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS), the award is for $20,000 annually while Ms Johansen is undertaking her PhD.

Her thesis will focus on the hydrocarbon reservoir potential of sandstones and limestones which outcrop on land between the East Cape and Marlborough. The rocks were deposited between 10 and 20 million years ago and the potential for them to store commercial quantities of hydrocarbons is, as yet, only partly understood.

The East Coast Basin is regarded as one of the more geologically complex of all of New Zealand’s sedimentary basins due to the extent to which the sedimentary rocks have been deformed by tectonic activity over millions of years.

Not only will Ms Johansen’s research dovetail into the work that GNS has been doing on the East Coast, but it is likely to be of strong interest to the oil exploration industry, particularly in light of the recent gas discovery near Wairoa.

As well as working for several oil exploration companies prior to her university studies, Ms Johansen has written articles for oil industry publications and has co-written papers for petroleum conferences. In recent months she has worked on oil rigs in Taranaki, and on an oil well drilled near Hastings.

Having gained a PhD, Ms Johansen wants to stay with the petroleum industry either as a scientist carrying out applied research, or working for an oil exploration company.

  • The scholarship is named after Dr Sarah Beanland who died in a tramping accident in 1996. An earthquake geologist with GNS, she was awarded a PhD two months before her death. Dr Beanland contributed to internationally significant research on the deformation of New Zealand due to tectonic forces. She received many awards during her career and was widely regarded as a role model.

John Callan
Communications Co-ordinator
Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited
Ph: 04-570-1444 (reception), 04-570-4732 (direct)