Geodynamic Adjoint Optimization Platform (G-ADOPT)

Understanding the evolution of Earth’s mantle and more
Australia space view
Who will benefit
Researchers, research organisations, infrastructure providers, government (state and commonwealth), geophysicists, data analysts

The Challenge

Between Earth’s crust and core lies the mantle, a 2,900 km thick convecting layer of hot rock that is the engine driving our dynamic planet. The mantle is the principal control on Earth’s thermal and chemical evolution and is, ultimately, responsible for almost all large-scale tectonic and geological activity. 

Despite this significance, we have little knowledge of the past structure and flow history of Earth’s mantle.

The Response

G-ADOPT focuses around the adoption, development and support of a computational modelling infrastructure for inverse geodynamics. 

It builds on several recent breakthroughs including a surge in accessible observational datasets; advances in inversion methods using sophisticated adjoint techniques that provide a mechanism for fusing these observations with dynamics, physics and chemistry; and two novel software libraries, Firedrake and dolfin-adjoint. 

When combined, these libraries provide a state-of-the-art finite element platform that offers a radical new approach for rigorously integrating data with multi-resolution, time-dependent, geodynamical models through high-performance computing from fields such as tectonics, stratigraphy, geochronology, geochemistry, seismology and geodesy.

This platform will enable robust reconstructions of the history of mantle convection and its impact at Earth’s surface, addressing a fundamental challenge central to the Earth sciences. 

G-ADOPT will facilitate the generation of unique 4-D datasets of Earth’s evolution, which will be of great value across the geoscientific community, with traceable provenance of input data and model configuration in full compliance with the FAIR principles.

Workshops will be held with international partners, users and other stakeholders throughout the project to coordinate software development plans with international partners; refine data interfaces in conjunction with domain experts; train users; identify other applicable research areas; and finally engage the broader community and plan for the future.

Who Will Benefit

G-ADOPT will facilitate the generation of unique 4-D datasets of Earth’s evolution, which will be of great value across the geoscientific community.

G-ADOPT will facilitate national and international collaboration, connecting researchers with data to those with models and driving a new class of interdisciplinary research.

The Partners

Our partners are:

  • ANU
  • The University of Sydney
  • AuScope
  • NCI
  • Geoscience Australia
  • Imperial College London
  • Oxford University
  • University of Munich

Target Outcomes

G-ADOPT will create a new paradigm for understanding Earth’s evolution. It will be central to ongoing efforts to reveal the geodynamic environments underpinning mineralisation, aligning with Australia’s research priority on resources. 

G-ADOPT will convert the solid Earth sciences community from idealised forward models to data-driven simulation, facilitating the use of many geoscientific datasets in a geodynamical context for the first time.

Contact the ARDC

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February 2021 to June 2023

Current Phase

In progress

ARDC Co-investment


Project lead

Australian National University (ANU)