The Mineral Collection at the South Australian Museum
Thursday February 4th 2021
Mawson Lecture Theatre
University of Adelaide
Senior Collections Manager,
South Australia is the proud birthplace of the Australian mining industry with the nation’s first payable deposits of silver - lead discovered at the Adelaide foothills in 1841, quickly followed by copper at Kapunda in 1842 and Burra in 1845. The South Australian Museum was founded in June 1856 and mineral specimens were amongst the first material obtained. Since then the mineral collections have significantly grown to now totalling almost 40,000 registered specimens. Our strengths are in the South Australian 19th century historical localities as well as the iron deposits from the Middleback Ranges on Eyre Peninsula, spectacular secondary minerals from the mines at Broken Hill, and more recently, from the new era of copper mining in the state, championed by the Olympic Dam Mine. We also have great coverage from important international localities. The past decade has seen the development of the finest collection of Australian precious opal in existence.
Ben McHenry grew up collecting minerals and fossils in Western Victoria in the early 1970’s and has been doing it ever since. He completed a B.Sc (Hons Geology) at the University of Melbourne and entered the workforce, relocating to South Australia to work on oil rigs in the Cooper Basin and later Bass Strait. A rare opening to work at the South Australian Museum appeared in 1985, was snatched with both hands and he is still there. Originally employed as a “Museum Assistant”, he moved on to later curate the fossil collections and ultimately the entire State geological collections housed at the Museum, finding time along the way to complete an M.Sc at the University of Adelaide. He now specializes in curating the mineral collections.
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