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  • The Exploring for the Future program is an initiative by the Australian Government dedicated to boosting investment in resource exploration in Australia. As part of the Exploring for the Future program, this study aims to improve our understanding of the petroleum resource potential of northern Australia. The physical properties of organic matter in sedimentary rocks changes composition in an irreversible and often sequential manner after burial, diagenesis, catagenesis and metagenesis with increasing thermal maturity. Characterising these changes and identifying the thermal maturity of sedimentary rocks is essential for calculating thermal models needed in a petroleum systems analysis. This study presents organic petrology on 15 Proterozoic aged shales from the Velkerri and Barney Creek formations in the McArthur Basin and the Mullera Formation, Riversleigh Siltstone, Lawn Hill and Termite Range formations in the South Nicholson region. Qualitative maceral analysis of the 15 samples are described in addition to bitumen reflectance measurements. These samples were analysed at the Montanuniversität Leoben, Austria in June 2020. The results of this study can be used to improve our understanding of the thermal maturity and hydrocarbon prospectivity of Proterozoic aged sedimentary basins in northern Australia.

  • This report presents key results from the Ti Tree Basin project completed as part of Exploring for the Future (EFTF)—an eight year, $225 million Australian Government funded geoscience data and information acquisition program focused on better understanding the potential mineral, energy and groundwater resources across Australia. Hydrogeological data acquisition and interpretation in the Ti Tree Basin, Northern Territory, was undertaken by Geoscience Australia as part of the EFTF Program. Located ~150 km north of Alice Springs, the Cenozoic basin hosts regionally significant groundwater resources, relied upon by communities, irrigators and pastoralists. Although the basin has been extensively studied over several decades, critical information gaps still remain, particularly for the deep groundwater system (>80 m depth). Work combining new geophysical and hydrochemical data with pre-existing datasets has revealed a more complex basin hydrogeology. Mapping based on airborne electromagnetics (AEM) has identified complex structural controls on the distribution of the deep basin sequence, with consequences for aquifer compartmentalisation, regional groundwater flow and aquifer connectivity. The mapping also shows where the basin sediments are much thicker than previously drilled. The hydrochemical assessment highlighted the complexity in groundwater recharge mechanisms, showing that the rainfall threshold for effective recharge and the role of evaporation are not consistent across the floodout zones in the basin. The EFTF products provide guidance for future hydrogeological investigations. In particular, there is evidence from historic drilling for potentially useful groundwater resources in the underexplored deep basin sequence. The EFTF program has expanded the knowledge base and datasets for the Ti Tree Basin. Collectively, these are valuable assets not just for basin groundwater management but also for the broader understanding of groundwater resources and processes in central Australia.

  • This report presents key results from the Daly River groundwater project conducted as part of Exploring for the Future (EFTF), an Australian Government funded geoscience data and information acquisition program. The four-year (2016-20) program focused on better understanding the potential mineral, energy and groundwater resources in northern Australia. In this investigation we use models of sub-surface bulk electrical conductivity within the geological Daly Basin to model the depth of the interface between the Jinduckin Formation and the overlying Oolloo Dolostone. The Olloo dolostone is the most extracted aquifer in the Daly basin, while the Jinduckin Formation is an aquitard separating the Olloo from the lower Tindall Limestone aquifer. Airborne electromagnetic (AEM) data acquired across the basin were inverted with both deterministic and stochastic methods to generate a suite of bulk electrical conductivity models. Comparison with boreholes suggested that the Jinduckin Formation is significantly more conductive than the Oolloo Dolostone and this interface is well resolved in these AEM conductivity models. We developed an interactive plot for visualising the probability distribution of bulk conductivities for AEM points inverted with the stochastic inversion routine. We interpreted 389 AEM points using this approach and used interpolation to derive a new stratigraphic Olloo—Jinduckin surface. The new surface is generally deeper than current models of the interface, which were derived by interpolating stratigraphic picks from boreholes. In the data-sparse south-west of the Daly Basin the new geological surface is up to 390 m deeper than what is currently mapped. This new interface can be used to better constrain aquifer architecture in groundwater flow modelling and support groundwater management of this region. The method developed for interpreting stratigraphy directly from the posterior probability distribution of electrical conductivity is applicable for other geophysical interpretation tasks.

  • This report presents key results from the Howard East project conducted as part of Exploring for the Future (EFTF), an Australian Government funded geoscience data and information acquisition program. The four-year (2016–20) program focused on better understanding the potential mineral, energy and groundwater resources in northern Australia. Groundwater is an essential part of Darwin’s water supply and is sourced from the Koolpinyah Dolostone Aquifer (KDA) at the Howard East Borefield (HEB) and McMinns Borefield, which are ~25 km to 30 km southeast of Darwin. Previous work suggests that electrical conductivity anomalies observed in airborne electromagnetic (AEM) data within 5 km of HEB may be caused by saline groundwater within the KDA that is separated from HEB by dykes and other geological features that effectively compartmentalise the aquifer (Fell-Smith & Sumner, 2011; Tan et al., 2012). Nevertheless, concerns have grown that increased groundwater use may result in migration of saline groundwater toward HEB, which could compromise the groundwater resource. We collected groundwater chemistry including isotopes, time-series groundwater salinity, AEM, and induction and gamma data to better understand the complexities of the KDA. We show that groundwater in the KDA typically has a fresh Mg-Ca-HCO3 type composition, as is expected for a dolomitic aquifer. Highly saline Na-Cl type groundwater with a composition similar to seawater exists at some locations as well as groundwater with a mixed composition. These findings confirm previous interpretations for the area (e.g. Fell-Smith & Sumner, 2011). We sampled saline groundwater on the opposite side of two dolerite dykes to HEB to its northeast. Age dating results for this sample cannot be used to determine whether this saline groundwater represents relict seawater or whether groundwater at this site is in hydraulic connection with the modern ocean. Our groundwater chemistry results also show that saline intrusion is occurring northwest of HEB. AEM data were collected to better characterise geological and hydrogeological features in the area. Estimates of bulk conductivity of the subsurface were derived by inverting AEM data using both deterministic and stochastic methods. Using these AEM inversions and other hydrogeological information, we characterised high-conductivity anomalies within 5 km of HEB and the upper surface of unweathered dolerite in the two dykes northeast of HEB. We interpreted conductivity anomalies as pyritic shales, although drilling is required to investigate the salinity of groundwater in the KDA in this area. Where we were able to resolve the upper surface of unweathered material in the two dykes using the AEM, we found that it commonly occurs below sea level. Characterising the geometry of these dykes will aid in assessing their role in aquifer compartmentalisation. Our findings contribute to building a robust conceptual understanding of the KDA and will guide future investigations into the groundwater system. A number of other products exist for the EFTF Howard East project. The findings of this report are integrated with hydrodynamic analyses undertaken by Woltmann (in prep.) and reported in Haiblen et al. (2020). Hydrochemistry data presented here are contained in McGrath-Cohen et al. (2020), water level and salinity monitoring data can be found in Turner et al. (2020), AEM data are in Ray et al. (2020b), and induction and gamma data are in Tan et al. (2020).

  • The structural evolution of the South Nicholson region is not well understood, hindering full appraisal of the resource potential across the region. Here, we outline new insights from a recent deep-reflection seismic survey, collected as part of the Australian Government’s Exploring for the Future initiative. The new seismic profiles, and new field observations and geochronology, indicate that the South Nicholson region was characterised by episodic development of a series of ENE-trending half grabens. These graben structures experienced two major episodes of extension, at ca. 1725 Ma and ca. 1640 Ma, broadly correlating with extensional events identified from the Lawn Hill Platform and the Mount Isa Province to the east. Southward stratal thickening of both Calvert and Isa Superbasin sequences (Paleoproterozoic Carrara Range and McNamara groups, respectively) into north-dipping bounding faults is consistent with syndepositional extension during half graben formation. Subsequent basin inversion, and reactivation of the half graben bounding faults as south-verging thrusts, appears to have been episodic. The observed geometry and offset are interpreted as the cumulative effect of multiple tectonic events, including the Isan Orogeny, with thrust movement on faults occurring until at least the Paleozoic Alice Springs Orogeny. <b>Citation:</b> Carson, C.J.. Henson, P.A., Doublier, M.P., Williams, B., Simmons, J., Hutton, L. and Close, D., 2020. Structural evolution of the South Nicholson region: insight from the 2017 L210 reflection seismic survey. In: Czarnota, K., Roach, I., Abbott, S., Haynes, M., Kositcin, N., Ray, A. and Slatter, E. (eds.) Exploring for the Future: Extended Abstracts, Geoscience Australia, Canberra, 1–4.

  • Geoscience Australia commissioned reprocessing of selected legacy 2D seismic data in the East Kimberley, onshore Bonaparte Basin as part of the Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program. Reprocessing of these data occurred between September 2017 and May 2018. Exploring for the Future (<a href="https://www.ga.gov.au/eftf/">https://www.ga.gov.au/eftf</a>) was a $100.5 million four-year (2016-20), Australian Government-funded program to provide a holistic picture of the potential mineral, energy and groundwater resources in northern Australia. The program has delivered new geoscience data, knowledge and decision support tools to support increased industry investment and sustainable economic development across the north. Groundwater is a critical resource that accounts for most water used across northern Australia. The groundwater component of the EFTF program focused on addressing groundwater resource knowledge gaps, to support future opportunities for economic development via irrigated agriculture, extractive industries and increased security of community water supplies. Through collaboration with State and Territory partners, the program undertook targeted regional investigations of groundwater systems and assessments of groundwater potential more broadly across the region. The program's activities, implemented by Geoscience Australia, involved application of innovative geoscience tools to collect, integrate and analyse a range of data. It includes geological and hydrogeological data, airborne and ground-based geophysical and hydrogeochemical surveys, remote sensing data as well as stratigraphic drilling. The new data and better understanding of groundwater systems also helps inform decision making about groundwater use to protect environmental and cultural assets. These outcomes strengthen investor confidence in resources and agricultural projects by de-risking groundwater in northern Australia. The package contains reprocessed data from ten surveys acquired between 1980 and 1997. In total 53 lines were reprocessed covering a fold area of approximately 618.9 line kilometres, with the objective to produce a modern industry standard 2D land seismic reflection dataset where possible from a selection of multiple legacy 2D data. The purpose of the reprocessing was twofold: 1) To image the near surface structural and stratigraphic configuration for linking to AEM data that is available in the Bonaparte Basin; and 2) To image the structure and stratigraphic architecture of the Paleozoic Bonaparte Basin. The dataset exhibits significant improvements in stack response in most of the reprocessed lines when final and legacy stacks were compared, especially in the shallow section. Optimum results were obtained from the noise attenuation workflows. A minimum processing flow was applied to BWA80, BWA81, and line BNT87-404 lines to avoid any signal leakage throughout the processing. Final data were delivered as minimum phase (care should be taken not to interpret zero crossings as geological boundaries), and final velocities produced a good match with the well checkshot velocities. The processing report from Down Under Geophysics is available for download with this release. Raw and processed data are available on request from <a href="mailto:clientservices@ga.gov.au&body=Ref: eCat 135578">clientservices@ga.gov.au</a> - Quote eCat# 135578. Processed stack SEG-Y files and ancillary data are available for download from this web page.

  • The onshore Canning Basin in Western Australia is the focus of a regional hydrocarbon prospectivity assessment being undertaken by the Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program, an Australian Government initiative dedicated to increasing investment in resource exploration in northern Australia. This data release provides data from new digital photography, X-ray Computerised Tomography (XCT) scanning, unconfined compressive strength (UCS) testing, laboratory ultrasonic testing, and gas porosity and permeability experiments for six samples from the Geoscience Australia and Geological Survey of Western Australia drilled stratigraphic well Waukarlycarly 1. Additional low permeability tests were undertaken on four samples which were identified as being ultra-tight (permeability <1 µD). These samples were analysed at CSIRO Geomechanics and Geophysics Laboratory in Perth during May and June 2020.

  • The Onshore Basin Inventory is a summary of data and geological knowledge of hydrocarbon-prone onshore basins of Australia. Volume 1 of the inventory covers the McArthur, South Nicholson, Georgina, Wiso, Amadeus, Warburton, Cooper and Galilee basins. Under the Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program, Geoscience Australia expanded this work to compile the Onshore Basin Inventory volume 2, which covers the Officer, onshore Canning and Perth basins. These reports provide a whole-of-basin inventory of geology, petroleum systems, exploration status and data coverage. Each report also summarises aspects that require further work. The Onshore Basin Inventory has provided scientific and strategic direction for pre-competitive data acquisition under the EFTF energy work program. Here we provide an overview of the Onshore Basin Inventory, with emphasis on its utility in shaping the EFTF energy systems data acquisition and analysis program. <b>Citation:</b> Carr, L.K., Bailey, A.H.E., Palu, T.J. and Henson, P., 2020. Onshore Basin Inventory: building on Geoscience Australia’s pre-competitive work program with Exploring for the Future In: Czarnota, K., Roach, I., Abbott, S., Haynes, M., Kositcin, N., Ray, A. and Slatter, E. (eds.) Exploring for the Future: Extended Abstracts, Geoscience Australia, Canberra, 1–4.

  • This double-sided A4 flyer promotes EFTF chronostratigraphic work in the NT, as well as the EFTF newsletter

  • This report presents groundwater levels results from the Upper Burdekin Groundwater Project in North Queensland, conducted as part of Exploring for the Future (EFTF)—an eight year, $225 million Australian Government funded geoscience data and information acquisition program focused on better understanding the potential mineral, energy and groundwater resources across Australia. The Upper Burdekin Groundwater Project is a collaborative study between Geoscience Australia and the Queensland Government. It focuses on basalt groundwater resources in two geographically separate areas: the Nulla Basalt Province (NBP) in the south and the McBride Basalt Province (MBP) in the north. This report describes a data release of water levels measured in monitoring bores in both provinces by Geoscience Australia during the EFTF project. It includes: - A full description of how water levels in metres relative to Australian Height Datum (m AHD; where zero m AHD is an approximation of mean sea level) were calculated from manual dips and electronic dataloggers for this project. - A series of tables in Appendix A containing sufficient information for each bore and datalogger file to reproduce the water levels reported in Appendix B and Appendix C. - A series of hydrographs in Appendix B showing how water levels (in m AHD) interpreted from manual dips and datalogger files varied during the EFTF project. - A series of electronic files in Appendix C that include (i) Data files from dataloggers in CSV file format that can be used with the information contained in this data release to regenerate the water levels shown on hydrographs in Appendix B, and (ii) Data files in CSV file format reporting the final water levels used to generate the hydrographs in Appendix B. This data release report does not include hydrograph interpretation, which is undertaken in detail in: Cook, S. B. & Ransley, T. R., 2020. Exploring for the Future—Groundwater level interpretations for the McBride and Nulla basalt provinces: Upper Burdekin region, North Queensland. Geoscience Australia, Canberra, http://pid.geoscience.gov.au/dataset/ga/135439.