November-December 2018 GeoEdLink AGC logo

Your geoscience e-newsletter courtesy of the Australian Geoscience Council

      President's Report | Geoscience News | Geoscience Views | Geoscience Activities
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From the AGC President - President's Report to the AGC General Meeting

Bill Shaw

Bill Shaw,
AGC President

The Convention organised by the Australian Geoscience Council in Adelaide (AGCC 2018) was extremely successful and is covered in the AGCC report in this edition of GeoEdLink.

However, in addition to the massive effort of the AGCC, projects the AGC has been and is currently working on are as follows:

  •   We are supporting the National Rock Garden in Canberra where more corporate sponsors are being sought. If you are going to Canberra this should be on your list. It will get bigger and more impressive with time. A new rock (Adelong Norite, a black fine-grained rock that has been sculpted by artist Andreas Buisman) was recently added.
  •   The AGC supported the Australasian Universities Geoscience Educators Network (AUGEN) at the AGCC event and is now encouraging them to come in under our wing.
  •   We are appointing an AGC representative to the TESEP Board.
  •   We continue to support #OzRockStocktake on social media as a source of Australian geology images.
  •   We have appointed a Diversity Champion to ensure that we are maximising opportunities for all geoscientists. Marina Costelloe has taken on this role and she has already been engaging with women geoscientists at all stages of their careers. We have decided to provide modest funding support for the 2019 Dorothy Hill Symposium (14 and 15 November 2019 in Brisbane). We are also looking to implement an AGC Indigenous Geoscience Scholarship.
  •   The Early Career Geoscientist (ECG) group was extremely successful at the AGCC 2018 and with the support of our 8 Member Organisations (MOs) we have asked Dr Verity Normington - newly announced Superstar of STEM (see below) - to become our ECG Advocate and represent ECGs in our MOs to the AGC Executive. We see this as an opportunity for the AGC to 'walk the talk' in finding ways for people early in their careers to engage with all our organisations supporting Geoscience.
  •   President-Elect Associate Professor David Cohen has finalised the Australian Geoscience Tertiary Education Profile 2017 and has released this with the support of University Geoscience departments.
  •   The Adelaide Convention finished in the black and the AGC remains well-funded. The AGC Executive has proposed to maintain our same level of funding to the various programmes we have been supporting, for next year.
  •   The AGC/AAS Travel Grants Scheme deadline has been extended (see below)
  •   The Australian Academy of Science has released the Decadal Plan for Geoscience. The Advocacy Subcommittee is planning to develop strategies based on the initiatives identified in the Plan.
  •   The AGC website is being upgraded and is worth visiting.

With the completion of the AGCC 2018 in Adelaide we have effectively established most of the initiatives set out in our 2015-2020 Five Year Strategic Plan. It is with much satisfaction that I congratulate and thank our Council, Executive and MOs.

I wish everyone in Geoscience a safe and happy festive holiday season. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year for 2019.

Bill Shaw
President, Australian Geoscience Council



In the previous GeoEdLink edition I noted the education sector, like so many other areas that need government to set policy and funding priorities, was effectively holding its collective breath while a new Prime Minister's cabinet was assembled and new directions found or old ones reaffirmed. Since then it seems that very little has changed except that we now know the next federal election will be in May 2019. Given the short amount of time Parliament will be sitting between now and then the government is effectively in election mode and we can expect no major changes or shifts in policy and spending until the budget announcements herald the election.

As I noted previously: as we count down to the next federal election there is some hope that promises of a quality education for all Australians will be a significant part of the platform on offer from all contestants. However, as we know from previous iterations of government, policy and spending announcements don't always fit with the political reality post-election so it is fair to say that it will not be until this time next year that we will have any firm idea of the new government's direction on education and its ability to deliver it. We can only hope that all groups put aside partisan differences and take Australia forward in 2019, through education, into the bright future it rightly deserves. Perhaps the place to start is by addressing the spatial inequality revealed in the recent analysis of NAPLAN data?

On more personal notes: I had the opportunity to attend and present at the AGCC in Adelaide recently and would like to thank the organisers for the great event it turned out to be. It was a great way to celebrate Earth Science Week, catch up with colleagues and friends and engage in great Professional Development along the way. May there be many more AGCC events to come!

I also hope 2019 shapes up to be a great year for you and you find time for some well earned R&R between now and then.

Greg McNamara - Editor, GeoEdLink
All feedback and submissions should be sent to the GeoEdLink Editor, Greg McNamara



 The AGCC makes it mark!

So much was achieved at the AGC Convention in Adelaide that it is difficult to know where to start! Monday morning opened with a bang; literally the clacking of boomerangs by Major (Uncle Moogy) Sumner who performed a moving Welcome to Country. The SA Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan was well-briefed and gave an excellent welcome to delegates that showed South Australia's appreciation of resource development and of broader Geoscience. James Johnson, CEO of Geoscience Australia, addressed the plenary hall on 'Applying Geoscience to Australia's most important challenges' which extended the vision of Geoscience to encompass geodesy, GIS, community needs and much more.

There were six Plenary sessions in the excellent technical programme developed by Chris Yeats and his Technical Program team. These included Matthew Huber from Purdue University, USA, who pushed the boundaries of any remaining climate change sceptics with his analogues and consequences of high temperatures in the Eocene and Miocene brought about by greenhouse gas forcing (i.e. increased CO2). This was followed later in the day by Richard Twitchett from the Natural History Museum, London, who extended the argument about the 'Lilliput Effect' whereby higher temperatures lead to smaller animal sizes, including evidence from stressed conodonts with smallest sizes during peak-warming.

Iain Stewart
Iain Stewart was one of four convenors of the
Big Issues & Ideas in Geoscience Day,
was the main speaker at the SANTOS Education workshop
and supported the AGCC throughout the event.

On Tuesday we had the amazing Big Issues and Ideas in Geoscience (BIIG) Day. This was a world-first innovation by the AGC, to put all the parallel technical sessions on hold for a day and get everyone together to discuss issues important to all geoscientists and to society. Opened by the BIIG Convenor, Caroline Tiddy, the four Summit chairs were introduced and we were off, using the interactive mobile phone app to put questions to each speaker in the panel after their brief presentations. It was interesting to watch the momentum build on issues of concern. The collection of all questions will be collated to form the basis for future advocacy efforts by the AGC on behalf of the delegates and Geoscience. This BIIG Day attracted a lot of attention in the press with articles popping up around the discussions by Allan Trench and Prabhav Sharma (Smoothing the Impact of Boom and Bust Commodity Cycles), Richard Blewett and Madam Mayor Joyce McCulloch of Mt Isa (Resource Driven Development of Northern and Regional Australia) and Iain Stewart (Geoscience Education and New Modes of Communication). While the session run by Bruce Godfrey (Our Energy Trilemma Options - Security, Accessibility and Sustainability) did not get as much attention as expected outside the Convention, the audience participation mechanism of supplementing with red and green 'voting cards' generated strong support from the audience for a proposal to further investigate nuclear power generation options.

The following days saw four more Plenary talks: Cornel de Ronde discussed metal deposit formation in subsea volcanic zones complete with fascinating footage, Michel Jaboyedoff gave a technical analysis of geotechnical risk and many additional factors in rock slope instability, Iain Stewart continued his useful and informative exposition of ways to improve Geoscience communication (It's Entertainment!) and Sue Keay discussed her Australian team's leading work on robotic vision.

In addition to the above sessions that were open to all 1079 delegates from 36 countries, there were 532 oral presentations and 226 posters. The orals were 30 minute keynotes and 15 minute talks, in up to 10 parallel sessions around the five Themes. All three days of presentations were based on the format of GSA's successful biennial AEGC conferences with submitted abstracts and Powerpoint presentations. These will be available for download by the delegates.

There were 44 exhibitor organisations, including the 8 Member Organisations of the AGC, special booths supporting Early Career Geoscientists (ECG) and Geoscience Education (AUGEN, ESWA & TESEP) and of course our all important Sponsors (Patron sponsor Geoscience Australia, Major sponsor Santos Ltd and Host sponsor the SA Government). Field trips and workshops attracted 137 attendees and it is estimated that our $1.2M event attracted $3.5M of direct value to the SA economy.

The champions and coordinators of the 5 Themes were:
   Dietmar Müller (Theme 1 - Understanding the Earth)
   Simon George (Theme 2 - Life On Earth - Origins and Diversity)
   Kevin Cassidy (Theme 3 - Resources - Discovery, Development, Use and Sustainability)
   Chris Woodfull (Theme 4 - Applied Geosciences In The 21st Century - Innovation, Technology and the Future)
   Graham Carr (Theme 5 - Beyond the Rocks - Geoscience In Our Society: Current Application And Future Trends)

The Organising Committee strove for innovation in lots of areas. In addition to the Technical Program there were many meetings and other events. We were proactive in supporting diversity through the Women in Earth and Environmental Sciences Australasia (WOMEESA) Diversity Lunch (sponsored by Beach Energy), the planning workshop for the Decadal Plan for Women in STEM 'non-breakfast no-coffee' early meeting (7am Monday morning and it was crowded and firing). Education was also a big focus with the Rapid-Fire 3 Minute Thesis Challenge sponsored by CSIRO, and a successful move by the AGC to sponsor a number of key players to come from all over Australia to work with Iain Stewart and Greg McNamara in the Santos sponsored Science Teacher Workshop. Other innovations included a big effort on social media and (both moderated by Verity Normington), the red/green voting cards for the BIIG Day, and perhaps our most successful innovation of all, the Crèche (championed by Anna Petts, sponsored by NeXus and AGC). This (we understand) was a first for Australian Geoscience events receiving great press and support from the attendees. It made a difference for a number of young geoscientists who would have otherwise been excluded because of their young-family responsibilities and is likely to be expected for all future events.

There were lots of other things that happened in Adelaide during Earth Science Week at the AGCC 2018. The AGC announced two new National Geoscience Champions at the Convention Dinner. Roy Woodall has been joined by Marita Bradshaw and David Groves in this small, select group of geoscientists who have done so much for our discipline and our profession. There were many events off-site sponsored for the ECG group to promote networking and bring young geoscientists into the fellowship generated by our big meeting, at minimal cost.

There are so many to thank for the organisational success of this big event that the list is long and no doubt inadequate. Nevertheless it is important to note, in addition to those mentioned above:

  •   Colleagues on the AGC Executive for their vision and support in establishing this event: Jon Hronsky, Leanne Gunther, Ron Hackney, David Cohen, plus Sue Fletcher and Miriam Way for helping set up the proposal, budget and Memorandum of Understanding between our Member Organisations
  •   Presidents and Representatives of the 8 Member Organisations that make up the rest of your Australian Geoscience Council
  •   Additional members of the Convention Organising Committee:
      •  Angela Riganti (AGIA) - Advocacy, Media and Protocol
      •  Mike Smith (ASEG and AIG) - Sponsorship
      •  Kim Frankcombe (ASEG) - Treasurer and Budget
      •  David Cohen (AAG) - Education
      •  Verity Normington (GSA) and Genna McDonagh (AIG) - social media, ECG and Volunteers
      •  Dale Sims (AusIMM) - Fieldtrips and Workshops
      •  Steve Mackie (PESA) for transparency in our Stakeholder Communications
      •  and observers from IAH, Geoscience Australia and others

Credit is due to Ashley Gordon and the Carillon Conference Management team for their seamless delivery of the event in Adelaide and for managing the Adelaide Convention Centre for us. FieldPR coordinated the large number of media releases around the event.

The group of 42 volunteers who shepherded us around the complex (and it was complex) was led by Dillon Brown. Hopefully he managed to also deliver his Honours thesis at the end of the week, when most of us were packing up, closing down, and savouring the value we got out of meeting up with old and new friends immersed in our special interests and our mutual love of rocks and their significance.

Note: Most people on the Convention Organising Committee (CoC) have multiple roles including in their own organisations, on the AGC and on the CoC. This summary would be much longer if it listed all their activities and everyone's formal titles (since most are Dr or Professor). Thank you again to all involved for your support of AGCC 2018.

What will we do next?

AGC President and Chair of the AGCC 2018 Convention Organising Committee
Bill Shaw

Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 The figures are in: Geoscience Tertiary profile 2017.

The Australian Geoscience Tertiary Education Profile 2017, compiled by AGC President-elect David Cohen, summarises the results of a survey of geoscience departments at Australian universities spanning the period 2013 – 2017 and similar surveys conducted by the AGC in 2007 and 2012. The entire report is a very interesting read but many of the issues identified in earlier reports persist.
Read the report here.

 IGC Travel Grant application deadline extended.
2015 AGC/AAS Travel Grant recipient Paul Ashwell
2015 AGC/AAS Travel Grant recipient Paul Ashwell
(at right) during field work in Chile.
Photograph courtesy of Paul Ashwell

The application deadline for the 34th International Geological Congress Travel Grant Scheme for Early-Career Australian and New Zealand Geoscientists has been extended to 14 December 2018. This scheme is an initiative of the Australian Geoscience Council and the Australian Academy of Science. It provides funds to support travel by Australian and New Zealand geoscientists in the early stages of their careers.
Details on how to apply and previous grants awarded can be found here.

 Super(geoscience)stars of STEM!
Verity Normington
STA STEM superstar!

The AGC congratulates all new Superstars of STEM, including several geoscientists and scientists in allied fields:

Dr Verity Normington, Project Geologist with the Northern Territory Geological Survey, is one of 60 STEM professionals to be elected a Superstar of STEM by Science and Technology Australia (STA). Verity is an active member of the Geological Society of Australia (GSA), she is the secretary of the GSA's National Governing Council and serves on several division committees. Verity was also recently named the Australian Geoscience Council's Ambassador for Early Career Geoscientists.
STA citation:

Other Geoscience-linked Superstars of STEM keeping Verity company in the latest round of nominations are:

Dr Teresa Ubide, lecturer in volcanology at the University of Queensland. She is passionate about understanding how volcanoes work and what causes them to erupt.
STA citation:

Dr Steph McLennan, geologist working at Geoscience Australia to understand how ice-free land in Antarctica is vulnerable to human impacts.
STA citation:

Dr Kate Selway, an Earth scientist with Macquarie University, who is passionate about understanding how our amazing planet works.
STA citation:

Erin Hughes, Senior Surface Water Engineer with Hydrology & Risk Consultancy.
STA citation:

Dr Laura Kuhar, Research Team Leader with CSIRO
STA citation:

Dr Alexandra Thomson, manager of the University of Technology Sydney's Deep Green Biotech Hub.
STA citation:

Dr Jennie Mallela, an enthusiastic environmental bio-geo scientist with the Australian National University.
STA citation:

Carolyn Thomas, Offshore Risk Environment & Regulatory Supervisor with Exxonmobil Australia.
STA citation:

 CONASTA 68 - Darwin, July 2019
CONASTA 2019 logo
CONASTA 2019 in Darwin
Winter in the Tropics!

In 2019 CONASTA will be hosted by the Science Teachers Association of the Northern Territory (STANT) and held at Darwin High School from 7-10 July. The CONASTA 68 theme of Uncharted Territory: innovation in science education has been chosen to inspire all educators to focus on the influence of science on our lives. CONASTA 68 will celebrate the successes of science, particularly Australian science, and will explore the vital role of science in our future.
Abstracts close December 13, 2018.
Earlybird registration opens March 16, 2019.
Find out more here.

 Time to plan for National Science Week, 10-18 August 2019

National Science Week 2019 will be here sooner than you think so now is the time to start planning your activities. National Science Week aims to raise the profile and increase the public understanding and public appreciation of science, innovation, engineering and technology, and their role in maintaining and improving our society, economy and environment.

The 2019 school theme is: Destination Moon: more missions, more science

 Earth Science Week 2019
ESW18 logo
Earth Science Week 2019, October 13-19, might seem a long way off but everyone is so busy it will be here before you know it. Start planning now!

The theme is: Geoscience is for everyone.

AGI website:

 A new rock for the National Rock Garden
Norite delivery
Delivery of the rock!

The fabulous teaching resource, the National Rock Garden (NRG), took another step forward in November with the delivery and official welcoming of the 11 tonne specimen of Adelong Norite. This is a must see location for geoscience students and teachers and is already a regular destination for field trips around Canberra.
Read more about the NRG and the Adelong Norite here:
Photograph courtesy of Brad Pillans.

 Hawaii, Iceland and more ...
Teachers on Hawaii
Great company, great rocks, fantastic trip!

See amazing volcanism first-hand and explore active volcanoes and more on great teacher-orientated trips through GEOETC. Collect data, samples and learn how to develop scientific field notes and map in the field.

These trips cater for a small number of people so that personalised learning experiences can happen for all the participants. The trip is also not overly expensive, with all the land transport, accommodation, breakfasts, some dinners, park entry fees covered.

For more information you can visit or email Gary Lewis on for more details.

 Catch Suzy if you can!

Suzy Urbaniak, Geologist, Educator and winner of the 2016 Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools is presenting at the National Future Schools 2019 Expo and Conference in Melbourne, March 20-21. Hear Suzy talk and discover her CoRE learning journey #therealclassroom

 Prepare for the Fair!

The SEA*ACT Science and Engineering Fair will return in 2019 with submissions due 13-14 September 2019. That sounds like a long way off but a whole heap of preparation has to happen before then! Follow the link to find out more.

   On-line resources - links and reviews   

 NAPLAN and spatial data surprise

Ten years of NAPLAN data mapped to location has revealed a startling result: In cities, almost no primary schools in disadvantaged suburbs have above average NAPLAN results, and the opposite is true for schools in advantaged suburbs. In remote or very remote schools only 20 have above average results, compared to more than 200 with below average results. The findings also show the location of a school has more bearing on NAPLAN results than whether the school is public or private.
News report:
Research paper:

 Online app for maps and other great geological info

This app: works a treat for locating the formation you might be standing on, giving you some background information and enabling you to easily measure strike and dip and record your observations. Lauren, author of our Views article in this edition, recommends it! It is definitely worth downloading and giving it a go. It might be just what you need in the field.

 TESEP rocks in 3D

The Teacher Earth Science Education Program (TESEP), with support from the AGC, has produced a world-class set of rocks for school classroom use. Supporting this rock kit are an amazing set of online resources, including 3D sketchfab images thanks to collaboration with You can find all the TESEP and other AusGeol 3D rocks, fossils and large outcrops here.

 Explore Geotrails

New South Wales Geotrails provide a unique tourism experience by guiding visitors on a journey that is focused on the local geology. They are designed to promote an understanding of earth sciences by enabling people to explore the natural environment and learn about its diversity.
Explore one or more this holiday season!

 Sign up for the Dorothy Hill Symposium newsletter

The Dorothy Hill Symposium for 2019 is scheduled for November 14-15 and registrations are already open. However, to get the most out of the event you should sign up here for the symposium newsletter. This will ensure you get to see all the program updates and reminders.


Geoscience Education Views

 Geoscience Education Views is prepared using opinion pieces provided by invited authors. Any views expressed may not reflect the views or policies of the AGC.

 Weekend Geology with Lauren

Lauren's diagram
Lauren at the Dinosaur Dreaming Dig
at the Otways with Museum Victoria

Editor's note: Lauren's story of her mission to increase public awareness of sites of geoscience interest is inspiring. We can all learn from her initiative!

My journey with geology began at Monash University where I studied a Bachelor of Science, randomly taking the subject as a 'breadth' requirement. I now work as a geologist, hunting for gold in massive quartz veins in tunnels over a thousand metres below the surface.

Whilst studying my undergraduate degree, I was lucky enough to go on many field trips to various locations across the state. One field trip took us to the structurally complex coastline of Cape Liptrap and Waratah Bay and another to the spectacular basalt columns at Organ Pipes National Park, just outside Melbourne.

The field is the natural laboratory of Geoscience and the place where most students will discover their love of geology (including me!). Almost all National/State Parks and Reserves in Victoria have some sort of interesting geological feature, in fact few don't invariably involve a rock (i.e. rocky granite outcrop). And yet rarely are people who visit these parks - families, hikers, picnickers, bike riders - able to easily access information about the geology, via signage, online websites, local guides or Parks Victoria Visitor Guides.

In creating the Weekend Geology website, I began to focus on the Parks Victoria Visitor Guides which would often be my first point-of-call in finding interesting sites. These guides will show you where the walking paths are, tell you about the wildflowers and sometimes talk about famous local Bushrangers or some other colonial story. Geology is almost always absent or far too brief - what if there was another page to these guides? A page describing the geology?

The website evolved over time, first mainly paraphrasing university field trips I had been taken on myself with maps copied from other sources and diagrams taken straight from my university notes. I realised after a time, that I'd need more than technical diagrams and words to engage people, instead opting for a combination of simplified geological maps integrating overlays and place markers for Google Earth/Maps, animations and geological illustrations/annotated photos accompanied by text. For instance, you can't explain why there is gold in Bendigo without talking about anticlines and you can't talk about anticlines without describing folding and deformation… and really none of that makes sense unless you can see this for yourself!

Lauren's diagram
Lauren's explanation of a fold.

I pair up my guides with a fantastic App called Rock.d, which allows you to find where you are on a geological map (overlaying a street map) and create 'check-ins' of geological sites. These check-ins are then linked to form a Trip!

My site routinely has up to 180 visitors a month, with many viewing multiple pages. Despite the site not being advertised anywhere, people find it with search terms such as "volcanic near cathedral ranges", "Studley Park Geology" and "Lake Eppalock Glacier". Being a part-time activity, I aim for one guide a month. 'Field work' usually takes a day, roping-in someone to come with me - usually my sister - with research and writing taking the best part of a couple more days.

Lauren's diagram
What most people see and what
geologists see are not necessarily the same thing

My aim this coming year is to continue working within the Greater Bendigo Region (where I call home) to develop geological sites for the community, pairing with local organisations such as the Central Deborah Gold Mine, the Discovery Science and Technology Centre and Bendigo Tourism, as well as engaging with local schools.

Geologists live all over Australia and very often have incredible local knowledge of where the best sites are. I think we need to be better - as geoscientists - at engaging people in geology - beyond mining and the dinosaurs at the museum. Bringing a bit of geology into everyone's weekend adventures is a good start!

Lauren Swann
Weekend Geology website


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 CONASTA 2019, workshop abstracts close, 13 December 2018

 CONSTAT 2019, workshop abstracts close, 15 December 2018

 SASTA, workshop abstracts close, 1 February 2019
Click here for more information.

 Cindy L. Chambers Bursary to attend the 2019 STEMed in the ACT, 18 February 2019
Click here for more information.

 CONASTA 2019, early bird registration opens, 16 March 2019

 Big Science Competition, Pen and paper registration closes 24 April 2019

 Big Science Competition, Online registration closes 15 May 2019

 CONASTA 2019, early bird registration closes, 1 June 2019

   Events and Activities   

✱✱✱  2019  ✱✱✱

 Primary Science Teacher Workshops, Canberra, 13-14 March, 2019
Designing Effective Science/STEM Instruction - Secondary teachers

 VSSEC Professional Development, Melbourne, 13-15 March, 2019
Designing Effective Science/STEM Instruction - Secondary teachers
Click here to finds out more.

 VSSEC Professional Development, Melbourne, 18-20 March, 2019
Designing Effective Science/STEM Instruction - Primary teachers
Click here to finds out more.

 VSSEC Professional Development, Melbourne, 21-22 March, 2019
STEM: Let's Learn More About Engineering!
Click here to finds out more.

 CONSTAT, Launceston, 29-30 March, 2019
The Moon and Beyond - More Missions - More Science - More opportunities

 Leadership in Science (K-12) for Proficient Teachers, 1 April, 2019
Click here for more information/.

 STEMEd: Future ImpACT, Canberra, 5-6 April, 2019

 SASTA Annual Conference and Expo, Adelaide, 15-16 April, 2019
Theme: Thinking Science
Click here to finds out more.

 Asian Physics Olympiad, Adelaide, 5-13 May, 2019

 CONSTAWA, Perth, 17-18 May, 2019

 Big Science Competition, in schools, 20-29 May, 2019

 Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad exam, in schools, 9 August, 2019

 National Science Week, nationally, 10-18 August, 2019

 International Earth Science Olympiad, South Korea, 26 August - 3 September, 2019

 Earth Science Week, Australia-wide, 13-19 October 2019
ESW18 logo
Theme: Geoscience Is for Everyone
 Dorothy Hill Symposium, 14-15 November 2019
✱✱✱  2020  ✱✱✱

 GeoEdLink will list your event here!
If you have an upcoming Earth and Environmental Science education related event GeoEdLink will list its details here. Send your event details to the GeoEdLink editor. An event name, date, location and web site link are essential. The next GeoEdLink will be published in July 2018.


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