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  • Abstract: The extent to which fluids may leak from sedimentary basins to the seabed is a critical issue for assessing the potential of a basin for carbon capture and storage. The Petrel Sub-basin, located beneath central and eastern Joseph Bonaparte Gulf in tropical northern Australia, is identified as potentially suitable for the geological storage of CO2 because of its geological characteristics and proximity to offshore gas and petroleum resources. In May 2012, a multidisciplinary marine survey was undertaken to collect data in two targeted areas of the Petrel Sub-basin to facilitate an assessment of CO2 storage potential. Multibeam bathymetry and backscatter mapping (650 km2 over 5,300 line km), combined with acoustic sub-bottom profiling (650 line km) and geomorphological and sediment characterisation of the seabed was undertaken above the CO2 supercritical seal boundary of the sub-basin. Features identified in the high resolution (2 m) bathymetry data include carbonate banks, ridges, pockmark fields and fields of low amplitude hummocks located directly adjacent to banks. Unit and composite pockmarks and clusters of pockmarks are present on plains and adjacent to, and on, carbonate ridges. It is postulated that there are three possible sources for fluids and fluidised gas involved in pockmark formation: deep fluids from the basin, post-Cretaceous intra-formational, layer-bound fluids, and shallow-sourced fluidised gas from the breakdown of organic matter following the Holocene marine transgression of Joseph Bonaparte Gulf.

  • The Carnarvon shelf at Point Cloates, Western Australia, is characterised by a series of prominent ridges and hundreds of mounds that provide hardground habitat for coral and sponge gardens. The largest ridge is 20 m high, extends 15 km alongshore in 60 m water depth and is interpreted as a drowned fringing reef. To landward, smaller ridges up to 1.5 km long and 16 m high are aligned to the north-northeast and are interpreted as relict aeolian dunes. Mounds are less than 5 m high and may also have a sub-aerial origin. In contrast, the surrounding seafloor is sandy with relatively low densities of epibenthic organisms. The dune ridges are estimated to be Late Pleistocene in age and their preservation is attributed to cementation of calcareous sands to form aeolianite, prior to the postglacial marine transgression. On the outer shelf, sponges grow on isolated low profile ridges at ~85 m and 105 m depth and are also interpreted as partially preserved relict shorelines.

  • The movie describes the marine reconnaisance and seismic surveys undertaken between November 2008 and February 2009 as part of the South-West Margin Project. This is part of the broader part of the Energy Security Program. Video and still images from the marine reconnaisance and seismic surveys. Seismic cross-sections. Bathymetric flythroughs

  • The legacy of multiple marine transgressions is preserved in a complex morphology of ridges, mounds and reefs on the Carnarvon continental shelf, Western Australia. High-resolution multibeam sonar mapping, underwater photography and sampling across a 280 km2 area seaward of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area shows that these raised features provide hardground habitat for modern coral and sponge communities. Prominent among these features is a 20 m high and 15 km long shore-parallel ridge at 60 m water depth. This ridge preserves the largely unaltered form of a fringing reef and is interpreted as the predecessor to modern Ningaloo Reef. Landward of the drowned reef, the inner shelf is covered by hundreds of mounds (bommies) up to 5 m high and linear ridges up to 1.5 km long and 16 m high. The ridges are uniformly oriented to the north-northeast and several converge at their landward limit. On the basis of their shape and alignment, these ridges are interpreted as relict long-walled parabolic dunes. Their preservation is attributed to cementation of calcareous sands to form aeolianite, prior to the post-glacial marine transgression. Some dune ridges abut areas of reef that rise to sea level and are highly irregular in outline but maintain a broad shore-parallel trend. These are tentatively interpreted as Last Interglacial in age. The mid-shelf and outer shelf are mostly sediment covered with relatively low densities of epibenthic biota and have patches of low-profile ridges that may also be relict reef shorelines. An evolutionary model for the Carnarvon shelf is proposed that relates the formation of drowned fringing reefs and aeolian dunes to Late Quaternary eustatic sea level.

  • AMB is a dataset depicting the limits of Australia's maritime jurisdiction as set out under UNCLOS and relevant domestic legislation. To this extent, AMB provides a digital representation of the outer limit of the 12 nautical mile territorial sea, the 24 nautical mile contiguous zone, the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone and Australia's Continental Shelf, as well as, the 3 nautical mile coastal waters. Where Australia has agreements with neighbouring countries these treaty lines are also included in the data. The dataset has been compiled by Geoscience Australia in consultation with other relevant Commonwealth Government agencies including the Attorney-General's Department, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as the Australian Hydrographic Office.

  • Multibeam sonar mapping, drill cores and underwater video data have confirmed the existence of a previously unknown reef province in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Seven reefs, comprised of coral limestone that support living corals have been mapped so far and as many as 50 other reefs may exist in the region. U/Th ages show that reef growth commenced shortly after limestone pedestals were submerged by rising sea level around 10.5 kyr BP, making them the oldest reefs known in Australia. Reef growth persisted for ~2.0 kyr but it had ceased at most locations by ~8.0 kyr BP. Measurements of reef growth rates (0.95 to 4 m kyr-1), indicate that the reefs were unable to keep pace with contemporaneous rapid sea level rise (>10 m kyr-1), which is consistent with a 'give up' reef growth history. Core samples from reef platforms demonstrate that Pleistocene limestone is exposed in depths of 27 and 30 m below present mean sea level. These depths represent regionally significant phases of reef growth during a prolonged sea level still stand. We conclude that the reefs are therefore mostly relict features, whose major phase of growth and development relates to an earlier, pre-Holocene sea level stillstand.

  • We report the presence of a prominent bathymetric expression of the Fitzroy River palaeochannel on the continental shelf of the southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. The Fitzroy River, and the Burdekin River are the two largest point sources of terrigenous sediment to the GBR, which represents the worlds largest tropical mixed siliciclastic-carbonate sedimentary province. The Fitzroy River palaeochannel differs from that of the previously discovered Burdekin palaeochannel in that it has not yet been buried by sediments. Evidently, the dominance of platform reef rather than barrier reef geomorphology, coupled with macrotidal oceanographic conditions has limited aggradation behind the shelf edge, as postulated for the Burdekin region. Contrary to current models for the central GBR which suggest that slope sedimentation is limited to periods of transgression, the palaeo-Fitzroy probably contributed sediment directly to the continental slope of the southern GBR throughout the lowstand. Additionally, it appears that during the highstand, accumulation of terrigenous sediment on the middle and outer shelf has been minimal. The southern GBR represents a transition between the mainly terrigenous wave and ocean current dominated shelf of southeastern Australia, and the mixed siliciclastic-carbonate storm-influenced shelf of the GBR. The discovery of the Fitzroy River palaeochannel in the southern GBR physiographic setting provides new data by which the response of major rivers to sea level change can be characterised.

  • Australia is increasingly recognised as a global hotspot for sponge biodiversity, with sponges playing key roles in habitat provision, water quality, bioerosion, and biodiscovery. Despite the intense focus on marine resource management in northern Australia, there is a large knowledge gap about sponge communities in this region. This study focuses on shelf environments of the Timor Sea, in particular the Van Diemen Rise and Londonderry Rise which are characterised by extensive carbonate terraces, banks and reefs, separated by soft sediment plains and deeply incised valleys. These carbonate terraces and banks are recognised as a Key Ecological Feature (KEF) in the marine region plans for northern Australia (North and Northwest Marine Regions) and are in part incorporated into the Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve. To support the management of this marine reserve and its associated KEF, we use new datasets to investigate regional patterns in sponge assemblages and their relationships to seabed geomorphology. To do this, we use sponge assemblage data and multibeam-derived variables (depth, backscatter, slope, geomorphic feature) from seven survey areas located on the Van Diemen Rise (four sites) and Londonderry Rise (three sites), spanning approximately 320 km in an east-west direction. The dataset was collected during three collaborative surveys undertaken in 2009, 2010 and 2012 by Geoscience Australia, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory as part of the Australian Government's Offshore Energy Security Initiative and the National Environmental Research Program Marine Biodiversity Hub. All surveys returned geophysical, biological, geochemical, and sedimentological data. Benthic biota were collected with a benthic sled across a range of geomorphic features (bank, terrace, ridge, plain, valley) identified from high-resolution multibeam sonar. Sponges were then taxonomically identified to 350 species, with the species accumulation curve indicating there may be over 900 sponge species in the region. Sponge assemblages were different between the Van Diemen Rise and Londonderry Rise, as well as between individual banks in the same area, indicating that different suites of species occurred at regional (east-west) and local (between banks) scales. Relationships between sponges and other multibeam-derived variables are more complex and warrant further research. The current study will help: i) facilitate integrated marine management by providing a baseline species inventory; ii) support the listing of carbonate banks of the Timor Sea shelf as a Key Ecological Feature, and; iii) inform future monitoring of marine protected area performance, particularly for areas of complex seabed geomorphology.

  • This resource contains surface sediment data for Bynoe Harbour collected by Geoscience Australia (GA), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Department of Land Resource Management (Northern Territory Government) during the period from 2-29 May 2016 on the RV Solander (survey SOL6432/GA4452). This project was made possible through offset funds provided by INPEX-led Ichthys LNG Project to Northern Territory Government Department of Land Resource Management, and co-investment from Geoscience Australia and Australian Institute of Marine Science. The intent of this four year (2014-2018) program is to improve knowledge of the marine environments in the Darwin and Bynoe Harbour regions by collating and collecting baseline data that enable the creation of thematic habitat maps that underpin marine resource management decisions. The specific objectives of the survey were to: 1. Obtain high resolution geophysical (bathymetry) data for outer Darwin Harbour, including Shoal Bay; 2. Characterise substrates (acoustic backscatter properties, grainsize, sediment chemistry) for outer Darwin Harbour, including Shoal Bay; and 3. Collect tidal data for the survey area. Data acquired during the survey included: multibeam sonar bathymetry and acoustic backscatter; physical samples of seabed sediments, underwater photography and video of grab sample locations and oceanographic information including tidal data and sound velocity profiles. This dataset comprises total chlorin concentrations, chlorin indices and porosity measured on seabed sediments. A detailed account of the survey is provided in Siwabessy, P.J.W., Smit, N., Atkinson, I., Dando, N., Harries, S., Howard, F.J.F., Li, J., Nicholas W.A., Picard, K., Radke, L.C., Tran, M., Williams, D. and Whiteway, T., 2016. Bynoe Harbour Marine Survey 2017: GA4452/SOL6432 Post-survey report. Record 2017/04. Geoscience Australia, Canberra. Thanks to the crew of the RV Solander for help with sample collection, Matt Carey, Craig Wintle and Andrew Hislop from the Observatories and Science Support at Geoscience Australia for technical support and Jodie Smith for reviewing the data. This dataset is published with the permission of the CEO, Geoscience Australia