Raymond Ernest (Ray) Smith

By September 19th, 2014


Ray Smith completed his Bachelor of Science (Hons 1) in geology and geophysics in 1963 and his PhD in geology and geochemistry in 1967, both from the University of Sydney. He then became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. From 1968 to 1969, he was appointed to the Faculty of the State University of New York at Binghamton as Research Associate. From 1970 to 1973, he was Research Manager, then Exploration Manager for Union Miniere Development and Mining Ltd in Western Australia.

Ray joined CSIRO in 1973 as a Senior Research Scientist in the Division of Mineralogy carrying out research into methods of exploring for concealed mineral deposits in Australia’s deeply weathered terrains. He became a Principal Research Scientist in 1978. He was appointed a Chief Research Scientist from 1988 to 1998 thereafter promoted to CSIRO Fellow until retirement in 2004.


Ray was the Foundation Director/Chief Executive Officer of the CRC for Landscape Evolution and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME-1) from 1995 and also of its renewal as the CRC for Landscape Environments and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME-2) over the period 2001-02.

Ray’s research has covered a range of geological and geochemical approaches to mineral exploration in Australia’s deeply weathered terrains. He is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s leading exploration geochemists and regolith geoscientists. Part of his research and that of the teams he has led focused on laterite geochemistry for use in detecting concealed mineral deposits through the use of trace-element geochemistry and microscopic preserved textures.

Broader research, involving collaboration across regolith groups in CSIRO, particularly with Charles Butt and Ravi Anand, focused on establishing concepts in regolith-landform mapping, regolith stratigraphy and landscape evolution as a basis to understanding exploration geochemistry for locating mineral deposits. The scope of these groups broadened considerably through formation of the CRC LEME-1 in 1995 and the CRC LEME-2 in 2000, which established a dynamic network of researchers and postgraduate students across Australia, as well as active international links.

Commencing in 1980, through trial mineral exploration programs supported by industry, he established procedures for geochemical mapping in lateritic terrains, carrying out the first geochemical mapping program for the Yilgarn Craton of WA from 1980 to 1987. Concurrent with this initiative, he became Australasian Coordinator for the International Geochemical Mapping Project IGCP 259, of UNESCO. From 1987 to 1992, he was a member of the international Steering Group for this project. He and his teams extended the coverage in the Yilgarn region through 1997 to 2000. Further extensions of this work have resulted from collaboration between the Geological Survey of WA and CSIRO from 2006 onwards.

Ray Smith has led undergraduate, postgraduate and professional development courses and workshops, frequently with associated field trips, in Australia, the Americas, Africa and Europe. He has published extensively through books, reports and in scientific journals.

Collectively, the research his colleagues and he have carried out has changed the way mining companies go about their exploration in Australia’s deeply weathered terrains and in comparable terrains elsewhere in the world.

Prior to joining CSIRO, Ray conducted research into the alteration of basaltic volcanics due to rising temperatures and pressures in response to burial. He continued this research at CSIRO establishing the burial metamorphic framework for the Hamersley Basin of Western Australia.

Upon formal retirement in 2004, he was appointed an Emeritus CSIRO Fellow continuing his research, on a voluntary basis, into recognising clues to concealed ore deposits.

He has served on the National Council of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) 2005-06, as Chairman of the ATSE’s Western Australian Division 2005-06 and is a member of the ATSE’s National Assembly 2008-10.

He was an editor of the international journal Applied Geochemistry from 1986 to 1995.

Honours and awards

Ray Smith was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 1997 and has received a number of honours and awards for his research or for research of the teams he has led including:

2005 Appointed Honorary Fellow, CRC for Landscape Environments & Mineral Exploration
2004 Inauguration by CSIRO and CRC LEME of the Butt-Smith Medal
2001 Centenary Medal ‘ for service to society in geology
1998 Appointed CSIRO Fellow
1997 CSIRO Research Medal ‘ for career contributions to the Australian mineral industry including Leader/Co-leader (with Ravi Anand) of the Lateritic Environments Group, and Executive Director/CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Evolution and Mineral Exploration
1996 – 1997 Distinguished Lecturer for the Association of Exploration Geochemists
1995 Inaugural Gold Medal of the International Association of Exploration Geochemists (Charles Butt was also an inaugural Gold Medal Winner)
1995 President’s Award, Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy ‘ for contributions to exploration practice in Australia’s deeply weathered terrain, including more than a decade of research projects funded by individual companies or jointly by AMIRA
1994 Sir Ian McLennan Achievement for Industry Award. Joint Recipients: CSIRO Lateritic Environments Team (Ray Smith & Ravi Anand, Co-Leaders, and team members Max Churchward, Tim Munday, Cajetan Phang, Ian Robertson & John Wildman); the Australian Mineral Industries Research Association Ltd (AMIRA); and Great Central Mines Ltd
1991 Gibb Maitland Medal of the Geological Society of Australia
1990 – 2009 Adjunct Professor in Exploration Geochemistry, Curtin University of Technology
1985 Billiton Prize for best paper, 11th International Geochemical Exploration Symposium, Toronto


  • Smith RE, 2009, Personal communication.