Wealth from Oceans Flagship novel, ocean-based industries leader, Dr Joanna Parr.

Wealth from Oceans Flagship novel, ocean-based industries leader, Dr Joanna Parr.

Dr Joanna Parr: leading research on balancing our coastal pressures

Dr Joanna Parr's research stream provides systems to enable efficient resolution of conflicting objectives that arise in coastal development.

  • 1 December 2005 | Updated 2 August 2013

Dr Joanna Parr leads the Wealth from Oceans Flagship's coastal balance research stream.

From late 2003 to early 2008 she was executive officer to the Flagship's director and from 1993 to 2003 she was a research scientist in the seafloor ore systems research group.

Dr Parr heads the Flagship's project to investigate the social and environmental viability of Australia's seafloor exploration and mining industry.

Current activities

Dr Parr has a keen interest in oceans, derived from her background working in marine geology.

The coastal balance research stream, which Dr Parr leads, includes projects on:

  • the impact of climate change on our coastlines and floodplains
  • the impact of seafloor exploration and mining and terrestrial mine waste disposal at sea
  • the development of sensors for distinguishing minute amounts of different oils in the ocean
  • atmospheric CO2 storage in the marine environment
  • the design and implementation of long term social and economic monitoring to facilitate better management of the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Parr leads a project to analyse and model the social and environmental impacts of seafloor exploration and mining.

The project has focused on the social dimensions of this emerging industry. Further work will concentrate on addressing the knowledge gap around environmental effects of seafloor activity and identify how seafloor mining fits in with other competing needs of coastal and marine industries and the environment in which they operate.

Dr Parr is also part of the seabed ore systems team that has investigated many active hydrothermal systems on the seafloor. This ocean-based research work has resulted in a better understanding of how ore bodies were created in the (geological) past. This has broad implications for the mining industry, because it ultimately provides an improved capability to find new mineral resources on land.

As part of her marine geology research, Dr Parr has participated in many sea-going expeditions to the Bismarck Sea, Indonesian waters and the Lau Basin, northeast of Fiji.

During Bismarck Sea expeditions, Dr Parr and a research team discovered and mapped two major sites of current seabed ore-forming activity."

In the Bismarck Sea, east of Papua New Guinea, the research team discovered and mapped two major sites of current seabed ore-forming activity. One of these sites, Solwara 1, began assessment for deep-sea mining in 2009 - a world first.

In recognition of their world-class leadership in the discovery of ocean floor sites where valuable minerals are still forming today, the seabed ore systems team won the 2002 CSIRO chairman's medal.


Dr Parr was awarded a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom (UK) in 1984. She was awarded her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Wales, Cardiff, UK in 1988.

Her thesis was on the geology of a highly mineralised region of ancient volcanic rocks in central Sweden. The research showed the ore deposits had formed 1,800 million years ago in a similar environment to those forming on and just below the seafloor today.

This was followed by postdoctoral studies at The University of Newcastle, New South Wales (NSW; 1990-1993) investigating the geology of the Pinnacles Deposit (15 kilometres south west of Broken Hill, NSW).

Dr Parr’s ongoing interest in the formation of Broken Hill ore deposits and satellite deposits, resulted in a new interpretation for the timing of the mineralisation relative to the rocks in which they sit.

This area of scientific research had important implications for the way in which geological models are developed for this style of mineralisation.

Dr Parr joined CSIRO in 1993 and is now part of CSIRO's Earth Sciences and Resource Engineering team and is a research leader in the Wealth from Oceans Flagship.


Dr Parr is has also published over 50 research papers, reports, and invited conference papers on topics such as:

  • the social acceptability of seafloor mining
  • exploration strategies using modern seafloor ore-forming systems to understand the ancient geological record
  • geology and geochemistry of modern seafloor ore deposits
  • geology and geochemistry of ancient (Proterozoic) ore deposits in Sweden and Australia.

As a member of the Seabed Ore Systems team, Dr Parr was awarded the 2002 CSIRO Chairman’s medal.

In 2006 she was a leading member of the Wealth from Oceans Flagship’s Oil and Gas team that won the one-CSIRO award.

Read more about the Wealth from Oceans Flagship.