Dr David Leaman.



David Leaman was born and educated in Tasmania, Australia - the heart of Gondwana. This island still has this heart shape. He gained a scholarship to study geology, on condition he work on government projects for several years and that his doctoral research be relevant to Tasmanian problems. He thus received a broad grounding in hydrogeology, basin studies, structure, engineering geology, mapping and applications of geophysics to all these fields. He was the first person purpose-trained in engineering geology and geohydrology for Tasmanian service and his first job title (Groundwater and Engineering Geologist with the Geological Survey of Tasmania, Mines Department) reflects this. He was appointed in February 1966. He held this position until 1973 when restriction of funds for water research and promotion led to a change: to Principal Geophysicist. Geophysics had been part of his training and was always applied to various problems in hydrology and engineering. He was now specialist. During 1973 he spent a short period in India as part of conference management and a village water well program supported by UNESCO.

His life-long research interests have been “Tasmania’s Curse”, its Jurassic dolerite, the relationship of water resources and land use, and application of gravity and magnetic methods to geological problems. He is acknowledged authority on all aspects of the dolerite and its intrusion. His doctorate on mechanism of intrusions was supervised by Prof. S W Carey. It was also Carey who began his second strand career as a teacher when he was invited to take parts of courses for civil engineers in 1972, at University of Tasmania. Carey wanted students to experience the flavour of really working with materials from someone who did it every day and had real case histories. This contracted, part-time, teaching role was expanded in 1985 when Prof. D H Green, asked him to support field excursions, assist in courses on applied geophysics and then teach tectonics and environmental geology. The tectonics course had been Carey’s favourite many years before.  He also introduced the topic of natural risk into student training and always enjoyed the teaching opportunities until funding cuts led to ending of his university commitments in 2001.  During this University teaching period he supervised many graduate students at Honours and Doctorate level and was also part of the Key Centre team for study of Ore Deposits (known as CODES). He had a major involvement in an AMIRA Project dealing with the Macarthur Basin in Northern Territory.

All this was done whilst, initially a government employee, and then maintaining an exploration consultancy, Leaman Geophysics, which was founded in 1981 after many years with the Geological Survey of Tasmania. His structural and geophysical experience has been applied to many mineral belts and petroleum basin studies as well as civil projects including major bridge, road and tunnel works. He has participated in the discovery of base metals at North Hilton near Mt Isa in Queensland, North Rosebery in western Tasmania, coal prospects in Central Queensland, and oil and gas resources in Bass Basin, and Papua New Guinea. He is now quite selective about projects undertaken but favours challenging evaluations of geological structures using gravity and magnetic methods.

Since 1997, with the maturation of his research on catchment hydrology – begun in 1966 and maintained over the years on a private basis, there has been a change in emphasis in projects undertaken and he has now studied many catchments for their climate and geological responses in order to guide water management and land use planning. It is a sad reality that he was trained by a long gone government to undertake such work and present day governments and vested interests have felt wholly challenged by the work completed – and its implications. This topic is discussed in his book “Water”. Many entries on the Web seek to denigrate this work (and the person) which, with passing years and further analysis, has proven essentially correct and valid in all its claims.

These activities have been fitted into a busy life which has also included the authorship of books on history, geology and walking; Walk into History in southern Tasmania, Step into History in Tasmanian Reserves, The Rock which makes Tasmania and Water: facts, issues, problems and solutions (now in 3rd edition), and Earthly Secrets. He still teaches, but now to adult groups such Schools for Seniors, Universities of Third Age, and Adult Education.


He has a substantial publication record. This includes, as of 2009,

65 fully refereed scientific papers in national and international journals (as sole author in most cases),

21 books and maps for Geological Survey Tasmania,  5 other books in the public domain, 89 published geological reports for government, 55 unpublished government reports on open file, 5 published extended abstracts, 10 short abstracts, 6 refereed long abstracts, ~255 open file public domain industry reports, 9 Tas government/research industry reports, 10 industry-university cooperative research centry study reports, and at least 100 private industry reports not publicly released (as far as known).

Publications cover the entire range of professional experience including hydrology, engineering, structural geology and applied geophysics.

A subset of these publications is included on this web site.


Return to home page: