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  • This data release presents regional scale groundwater contours developed for the Upper Burdekin Groundwater Project in North Queensland, 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. 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 data release includes separate, regional-scale groundwater contour datasets for the Nulla and McBride basalt provinces developed by Geoscience Australia 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. As detailed in that document, the groundwater contours were drawn by hand based on: - Groundwater levels from monitoring bores measured mostly on 17 February 2019 following extensive rainfall. - Surface topography. - Surface water features (rivers and springs). - Remote sensing data. The inferred groundwater contours were used in various Upper Burdekin Groundwater Project components to frame hydrogeological discussions. It is important to note that they were drawn following a wet period; groundwater contours are temporally variable and those presented in this data release therefore only represent part of the regional groundwater flow system.

  • This technical report details the methods and results the drilling programs of the Upper Burdekin Groundwater Project 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. This report was written by Queensland Government collaborators in the Department of Environment and Science, and is published here as supplied to Geoscience Australia at the conclusion of the project. The drilling program itself was conducted by the Department of Environment and Science as part of the Upper Burdekin Groundwater Project. A total of 17 holes were drilled in 2017-18 at 13 sites with a total combined depth of 943.2 metres. These comprise selected locations across both the Nulla Basalt Province and McBride Basalt Province. A network of 15 monitoring bores were constructed with two test holes backfilled and decommissioned.

  • This report presents key results from the Upper Burdekin Groundwater Project conducted as part of Exploring for the Future (EFTF)—an eight year Australian Government funded geoscience data and information acquisition program. The first four years of the Program (2016–20) aimed to better understand the potential mineral, energy and groundwater resources in northern Australia. The Upper Burdekin Groundwater Project focused on the McBride Basalt Province (MBP) and Nulla Basalt Province (NBP) in the Upper Burdekin region of North Queensland. It was undertaken as a collaborative study between Geoscience Australia and the Queensland Government. This document reports the key findings of the project, as a synthesis of the hydrogeological investigation project and includes maps and figures to display the results.

  • This report presents key results of groundwater barometric response function development and interpretation 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. The NBP and MBP basalt aquifers are heterogeneous, fractured, vesicular systems. This report assesses how water levels in monitoring bores in the NBP and MBP respond to barometric pressure changes to evaluate the degree of formation confinement. The main process used to evaluate water level response to barometric pressure in this study is based on barometric efficiency (BE). The BE of a formation is calculated by dividing the change in monitoring bore water level by the causative barometric pressure change. Both parameters are expressed in the same units, so BE will typically be some fraction between zero and one. BE is not necessarily constant over time; the way BE changes following a theoretical step change in barometric pressure can be described using a barometric response function (BRF). BRFs were calculated in the time domain and plotted as BE against time lag for interpretation. The BRF shape was used to assess the degree of formation confinement. Although there is some uncertainty due to monitoring bore construction issues (including long effective screens) and potentially air or gas trapped in the saturated zone, all BRFs in the current project are interpreted to indicate unconfined conditions. This finding is supported by the identification of recharge at many monitoring bores through hydrograph analysis in other EFTF project components. We conclude that formations are likely to be unconfined at many project monitoring bores assessed in this study.

  • This report presents key results of groundwater level interpretations 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 interprets groundwater levels measured in both provinces by Geoscience Australia and the Queensland Government to provide recommendations for resource management. The NBP and MBP basalt aquifers are heterogeneous, fractured, vesicular systems. Several lava flows are mapped at surface in both provinces, and the degree of hydraulic connectivity between these flows is unclear. Although there was some uncertainty due to monitoring well construction issues, barometric efficiency analyses from supporting project documents suggest that the basalts of the NBP and MBP were unconfined where monitored during the EFTF project. That finding generally matches observations presented here. Longer term groundwater hydrographs suggest that groundwater levels have been declining in the NBP and MBP following major flooding in 2010-2011 related to one of the strongest La Niña events on record. Groundwater levels are yet to decline to pre-flood elevations in places. Importantly, these longer term hydrographs set the project in context: the EFTF monitoring period is only a small fraction of a much longer-functioning, dynamic groundwater system. Nulla Basalt Province The NBP is elongated east-west, and is situated entirely within the Burdekin River catchment. Volcanic vents in the west identify that area as the main extrusive centre. Regionally, groundwater migrates through the basalts of the NBP from the western high ground towards the Burdekin River in the east. Although lava flows of the NBP reach the Burdekin River, direct groundwater discharge in this area has not yet been proven. However, groundwater does discharge to various springs and surface watercourses in the NBP that are known tributaries of the Burdekin River. Despite the presence of many registered extraction bores, no clear signs of pumping were observed in groundwater hydrographs from the NBP during the EFTF monitoring period. Water levels in many bores responded to major rainfall events, ranging from a simple change in declining hydrograph slope to a water level increase of ~6.8 m in the central west. While some responses could have been induced by loading, electrical conductivity loggers and the extent of water level rise showed that many were clearly caused by recharge. At nested monitoring locations, groundwater levels remained commensurate with downward flow potentials throughout the EFTF monitoring period. McBride Basalt Province The MBP is approximately circular in plan, with volcanic vents present in a north-northeast trending band through the province centre. Lava flows extend away from the high ground of the province centre towards lower ground near the edges. In part due to its geometry, the MBP is situated within four river catchments; only surface water landing in the east flows into the Burdekin River. Regionally, groundwater migrates through the basalts of the MBP from the central high ground radially towards the edges. Direct groundwater discharge from the MBP basalts into the Burdekin River has been shown in this project. Similarly to the NBP, groundwater is also known to discharge to numerous springs and surface watercourses in the MBP. Water levels in many bores responded to major rainfall events. Responses ranged from a change in declining hydrograph slope to a water level increase of ~6.8 m in the southeast. While some responses could have been induced by loading, the extent of water level rise showed that others were clearly caused by recharge. No nested monitoring locations were installed for the EFTF project, so vertical head gradients are currently unknown. Although there are numerous registered extraction bores in the MBP, groundwater level response to pumping was only definitively identified in the east in bore RN12010016. However, several registered bores with high estimated yields have been installed in the northeast since EFTF fieldwork completion. It is possible that these higher yielding extraction bores may induce visible drawdown in monitoring bores in the future. Their high estimated yields may be associated with lava tubes; features not reported in the literature reviewed for this project for the NBP, but identified at surface and potentially in several Queensland Government bores drilled in the MBP. Conclusions and recommendations The Upper Burdekin Groundwater Project has provided abundant information on various aspects of the hydrogeology of the Nulla and McBride basalt provinces. General groundwater flow processes are understood at a regional scale for the EFTF monitoring period, but more detailed investigations and longer term monitoring are required to fully evaluate local conditions. One of the main observations of this study are the long term groundwater level declines in both the NBP and MBP following the 2010-2011 La Niña-associated floods. Groundwater levels are yet to reduce to pre-flood elevations in places, showing that the EFTF monitoring period represents only a small fraction of a much longer-functioning, dynamic groundwater system. It is unclear what, if any, contribution groundwater extraction has made to regional water level declines. Numerous correlations were assessed between groundwater hydrograph characteristics and potentially influencing factors, but the results were mostly inconclusive. There is uncertainty in hydraulic connectivity across lava flow boundaries and between intra-lava flow aquifers. Although interesting groundwater processes were identified at many bores, at the current bore spacing it is not generally possible to interpolate between locations with any certainty. Knowledge gaps and suggestions for further investigation are recorded in Section 5 of the report. The gaps identified should assist planning of future work to inform: - Further characterisation of groundwater resources. - Protection of groundwater dependent ecosystems. - Appropriate groundwater resource management.

  • 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.

  • This data release contains accurate positional data for groundwater boreholes in terms of horizontal location as well as elevation of the top of casing protectors. Twenty-four boreholes located in the Nulla and McBride basalt provinces have had DGPS survey results compiled and are presented. Using 95% confidence intervals, the horizontal uncertainties are less than 1.2m and vertical uncertainties less than 0.9m. These results are a substantial improvement, particularly on the uncertainty of elevations, and as such allow water levels need to be compared between bores on a comparable datum, to enable a regional hydrogeological understanding. Quantifying the uncertainties in elevation data adds robustness to the analysis of water levels across the region rather than detracting from it.