Staff, alumni and students have given more than $200,000 to kickstart the Research School of Earth Sciences' (RSES) Future Fund.
"The Earth Sciences Future Fund is an investment that will support our researchers to discover more about the origins, evolution and future of our planet," said Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young as he launched the fund.
The donations will fund research fellowships and scholarships to attract the next generation of earth scientists to the school, as well as field education and maintenance of the school's valuable geological collection, which includes precious meteorites and fossils.
RSES was recently rated as 12th in the world for its research on earth and marine sciences. Highlights of its history include development of continental drift theory, development of the synroc nuclear waste storage approach and the analysis of the first lunar rock samples.
Dr Sophie Lewis, an early career researcher and scholarship recipient, said she jumped at the chance to return to RSES after a postdoctoral fellowship in Melbourne.
"People are our greatest resource. I can't imagine any other institution where I would get such diverse expertise," she said.
School director Professor Ian Jackson, himself a donor, said he was delighted with the early donations.
"We have had donors not only from within the school, but from Japan, Thailand and the United States already," he said.