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Bob Watchorn

PhD student
Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET)

Contact details

Robert Street Building, Rm 221
Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET)
The University of Western Australia (M006)
35 Stirling Highway
Australia ​

+61 448 368 325


Born and raised in Launceston, Tasmania I knew I wanted to be a geologist before I could spell it. My interests are manifold and include: Sailing, all racquet sports, family (including 13 grandchildren), reading, playing music, (guitar, mandolin and harmonica), writing mining history, archaeology, painting and sketching, mechanical fixing, gardening, travelling…

During the height of the Nickel boom (1968) I travelled to Kalgoorlie and completed an Associateship in Mining Geology at the Western Australian School of Mines finishing it in 1972 while I worked for WMC in Kambalda. This was converted to a B App Science from what is now Curtin University in 1978. I completed an MSc part time at Melbourne University with a structural geology research thesis on The Deformation History and Mineralisation of the Stawell Goldfield which outlined six episodes of deformation and four periods of mineralization which has proved robust and is still accepted as the standard (Watchorn 1987). Papers were also written on the multi-episodal, complex structure and gold mineralization of Western Victoria (Wilson and Watchorn 1988, Watchorn 1989). Similar concepts were used in the Mt Magnet goldfield (Thompson et al 1988) and the Kambalda goldfield (Watchorn 1998). Quite a number of practical industry papers were also written.

From 1971 – 1999, I was working for WMC as a mining and exploration geologist in a variety of wonderful outback towns. In 1999 I commenced my own geological consultancy. I spent about 20 years in the quite demanding role of Chief Geologist of large operations often with large exploration and research budgets. I have worked in many different geological environments and metals including tin/wolfram, nickel, gold, porphyry copper/gold, uranium, iron, silver/lead/zinc.

I’ve always enjoyed a challenge and I’ve got a good one on my hands with my PhD thesis which is The Nature, Genesis, Mineralization and Exploration Targeting Potential of Giant Ring Structures in the Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia, Australia. This topic has never received the attention it deserves. My research commenced in 1999 when a desktop study defined Watchorn giant ring structure in the NE Yilgarn (Watchorn 2013a). A July 2013 field trip exploring the surface geological expression of the rings discovered samples consisting of rocks and structures with some characteristics of rocks caused by an extra-terrestrial impact (Watchorn 2013b). Multiple giant ring structures across the Yilgarn craton have been outlined.

This research project is designed to answer the following questions. Are there Archaean giant ring structures? If so; what is the location and number of giant ring structures in the Yilgarn craton? Why and how did they form? Are they formed by impacts, plumes/hotspots, plutons, ring dykes, calderas or by other methods? When did they form? What is their role in the formation of the Yilgarn craton? Why do they correlate with mineralization? Are they a cause of mineralization in the Yilgarn?

This detailed research has not been done. Archaean giant ring structures are not fully recognised or used for exploration worldwide. The project is significant because if its premises are valid then it will rewrite the concept of the evolution, mineralization and exploration targeting of the Yilgarn Craton, and by default other Archaean Cratons.


Watchorn, R. B., 1987.  Deformation in the Stawell Goldfield and its relationship to the Gold Minerailization. Geology Department, School of Earth Sciences, Melbourne University. Unpublished MSc thesis

Watchorn, R. B., Wilson, C.J. L., Quick, D. R., 1987. Structure of the Stawell Goldfield and its relationship to the Gold Mineralization. Oral paper. Structural Conference, Mt Buffalo.1987.

Watchorn, R. B., Wilson, C.J.L., Will, T. M., Quick, D.R., Cathcart.  J. C., 1988. Structural Control of Gold Mineralization at Stawell, Victoria. Bicentennial Gold. Melbourne. May 1988.

Watchorn, R. B., Wilson, C.J. L., 1989. Structural Setting of the Gold Mineralization at Stawell, Victoria, Australia. Economic Geology Volume. Gold 88.

Watchorn, R.B., 1998. Kambalda - St Ives Gold deposits.  AusIMM Monograph 22 243 – 254

Watchorn, R.B. 2013. Examination of impact structures in the Yilgarn, Western Australia: ASEG Preview 166, 35. doi:PVv2013n166p35

Watchorn, R.B. 2013. The discovery of Prima Facies Evidence for impact structures in the Eastern Yilgarn, Western Australia: ASEG Preview 167, 25. doi:PVv2013n167p25