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Jonathan Clarke, PhD


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Jonathan Clarke

Canberra, Australia


PhD, Flinders University, Geology Sedimentology, Palaeoecology, Australia, 1983 - 1988

BSc, Geology, Geography, Biology, Philosophy, University of Tasmania, 1978 - 1981

Instructor, Swinburne University of Technology,  2016 - Present

Hydrologist, Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), 2015 - Present

President and Director, Mars Society Australia, 2001 - Present

Senior Research Scientist, Geoscience Australia, 2003 - 2015



Dr Jonathan Clarke was born in Malaysia and grew up in Thailand.  He attended the university of Tasmania, majoring in geology and physical geography.  Jonathan also studied biology and philosophy.  His 4th year honours research highlighted a literature view of the then-new hypothesis of a terminal Cretaceous impact-induced mass extinction, and field studies of the palaeoecology and sedimentology of the Silurian clastics of the Tiger Range in Tasmania in 1981.


After a brief period working in coal, petroleum, and trona exploration in South Australia, Jonathan commenced a PhD at Flinders University in Adelaide. The research project consisted of detailed field investigations of the mostly carbonate Early Cambrian at Wilkawillina Gorge in the Flinders Ranges. This was followed by detailed petrographic study of the sediments. A self funded project, Jonathan also worked part time in undergraduate teaching, and contracting for Seltrust Ltd. and the Bureau of Mineral Resources in base metal exploration and a marine survey onboard the RV Rig Seismic.  Jonathan graduated in 1988.


In 1987 Jonathan commenced working as an exploration geologist at Kamblada in Western Australia for WMC Ltd. This involved exploring for nickel and gold in Archaean rocks (~2.7 Ga) rocks, often under transported cover, beneath salt, lakes, and in deeply weathered terrain. In 1992 he moved to Melbourne to run the Geological Research Laboratory for the eastern Australia and Pacific exploration division of the company. The GRL provided mineralogical, minerographic, petrographic, and general geological advice to mines and exploration teams in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory, Fiji, and the Philippines, working commodies such as copper, gold, zinc, and uranium. He also supported projects in Western Australia.  In 1996 his role changed to being a sedimentological consultant for the Geoscience and Technology Group, with a worldwide brief. Principal activities at this time included running a marine diamonds exploration program in Joseph Bonaparte Gulf and studying the landscape of the Atacama Desert to enhance geochemical exploration techniques.


Jonathan moved to Canberra in 1999 to take up a lecturer ship in the Geology Department at the Australian National University, in 2003 he commenced working at Geoscience Australia, the national geoscientist agency.  Over the next 12 years Jonathan worked mostly in salinity management and groundwater projects, principally in the Murray-Darling Basins, but also in the Northern Territory, Victoria, coastal Queensland, and Western Australia.  His final year GA was spent in pre-competitive mineral exploration in the under-cover Stavely volcanic belt of Victoria and in potential poash resources in Australian salt lakes. Since 2015 Jonathan has been working as a contractor for industry and government agencies.


A child of the space age, born in the year that humanity first glimpsed the lunar far side, Jonathan has been interested in space exploration and astronomy his entire life.  Unable to study astronomy because of a lack of mathematic ability (and interest), he chose instead to study the planet we live on.  In 2001 he discovered Mars Society Australia and was delighted to fine an organisation where he could contribute to the human future on Mars, despite living in Australia which, at that time, had no space agency.  Through MSA Jonathan has been privileged to take part in Mars analogue expeditions in Australia, India, Canada, and New Zealand, worked at NASA Ames, and publish extensively on the geology and geomorphology of Mars and it’s terrestrial analogues, and on Mars exploration technology and human factors.  He has contributed to astrobiology at Amity University in Mumbai and at Swinburne University in Melbourne.  Jonathan has spent a total of five months in Mars analogue simulations at the Mars Desert Research Station, Utah, and at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island, Canada. Since 2002, Jonathan has been on the board of MSA and been its president since 2012.

Jonathan has contributed to over 100 publications (60 Mars related) and more than 40 peer reviewed government reports and book chapters.


Research Areas


 Regolith science


Planetary geology 



Mars Geology

Summer, 2021 (Mars Settlement and Exploration Program)

Articles and Publications

1. CLARKE, J. D. A. 2006. Antiquity of aridity in the Atacama Desert: implications for supergene mineralisation.  Geomorphology. 73(1-2), 101-114.

2. CLARKE, J. D. A. 2003. The occurrence and significance of biogenic opal in the regolith: a review.  Earth Science Reviews. 60: 175-194.

3. PAIN, C. F., CLARKE, J. D. A., and THOMAS, M. 2007. Inversion of relief on Mars.  Icarus 190: 478-491.


​4. CLARKE, J.D.A. 1994a.  Evolution of the Lefroy and Cowan Palaeodrainages, Western Australia.  Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 41: 55-68.


​5. CLARKE, J.D.A.  1994b.  Geomorphology of the Kambalda region.  Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 41(3): 229-240.

His five most recent contributions are:​


1. CLARKE, J.D.A., MURAKAMI, Y., and RUPERT, S. R. 2018 Personal scheduling and EVA operations during three months of analogue Mars operations.  Proceedings of the 19th Australian Space Research Conference, p127-144.

2. DE CARITAT, P., BASTRAKOV, E. N.,  JAIRETH, S.,  ENGLISH, P. M., CLARKE, J. D. A., MERNAGH, T. P.,  WYGRALAK, A. S.,  DULFER, H. E., and TRAFFORD, J. 2019. Groundwater geochemistry, hydrogeology and potash mineral potential of the Lake Woods region, Northern Territory, Australia.  Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 66(3), 411-430


3. CLARKE, J., KNIGHTLY, P., and RUPERT, S. 2019. Melt-water formed dark streaks on slopes of Haughton crater as possible Mars analogues. International Journal of Astrobiology 18(6) 518-526.

4. PANDEY, S., CLARKE, J., PREETI NEMA, N.,  BONACCORSI, R.,SOM, S.,SHARMA, M.,PHARTIYAL, B., RAJAMANI, S., MOGUL, R., MARTIN-TORRES, J., VAISHAMPAYAN, P., BLANK, J., STELLER,  L., SRIVASTAVA, A., SINGH, R., MCGUIRK, S., ZORZANO, M., GÜTTLER, J.,MENDAZA, T., SORIA-SALINAS, A., AHMAD, S., ANSARI, A.,SINGH, V., MUNGI, C., and BAPAT, N. 2019. Ladakh: diverse, high-altitude extreme environments for off-earth analogue and astrobiology research. International Journal of Astrobiology 1–21.


​5. CLARKE,  J. D. A., PAIN, C. F., and RUPERT, S. 2020: Complex expressions of inverted and exhumed relief in central Utah, and some martian counterparts, Physical Geography,

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