A great aid to exploring in Australia is easy access to major geoscientific datasets. These are available free or at nominal cost and include:
- government-generated geoscientific maps and datasets;
- company reports of previous exploration;
- open file exploration databases;
- geographic information system (GIS) data; and
- access to data room and data packages in support of the annual offshore acreage release.
Government Geoscience Maps and Datasets
The Australian, State and Northern Territory (NT) Governments each have a range of highly developed datasets that are publicly available. These typically include petroleum occurrences, resources, geological features and tenement boundaries. An increasing amount of this data is available in digital formats. Details of the material available from each State and the NT can be obtained from the contacts listed under Key Sector Contacts (see Appendix B).
Geoscience Australia (GA) is the national geoscience and geospatial information agency. It undertakes major studies designed to reduce exploration risk and promote the petroleum prospectivity of Australia's under-explored sedimentary basins through the provision of pre-competitive geoscience information. The agency has been carrying out this work since the early 1980s and has extensive databases, datasets and reports from many areas, particularly offshore. Well head data, biostratigraphy, two way time, depositional facies, porosity, permeability and organic geochemistry data can be obtained free of charge for most offshore wells. This data can be accessed and interrogated via a map-enabled internet interface with download capability (dbforms.ga.gov.au/www/npm.well.search). For more information and details of current projects, products and datasets see Geoscience Australia's website: www.ga.gov.au
Mapping programs undertaken by Australian and State/NT geological surveys have generated a comprehensive geological and geophysical coverage of Australia. The continent is covered by geological maps at 1:250,000 scale and selected mineral provinces at more detailed scales (1:100 000, 1:50 000 and 1:25,000). Province and State/Territory-wide maps are available at scales from 1:500,000 to 1:2 million, and at 1:2.5 million and 1:5 million scale for the Australian continent.
Standard series maps are accompanied by reports or explanatory notes and recent maps are available in digital formats. Other map products, in the form of thematic maps and atlases, include mineral deposit, metallogenic, regolith landform and stream sediment geochemistry maps, and are available at a range of scales and formats, some suitable for use in GIS packages.
Most of the continent is covered by regional airborne magnetic and gamma-ray spectrometric surveys. As part of the Government's new energy initiative, an Australia-wide airborne geophysical tie-line survey (AWAGS 2) has been flown. The processed radiometric data constitute the Australian Radioelement Datum and will be used to adjust all the existing data over the entire country to this common datum. The survey will also be the datum for airborne radiometric data acquired in the future. The adjustment of all existing datasets to the new datum will enable GA to produce, for the first time, continental-scale radiometric datasets.
The processed magnetic data will increase the resolution of the Australian magnetic anomaly map and will be incorporated into continental-scale datasets.
Gridded digital data are also available for the entire country, including some offshore regions, as well as standard 1:1 million sheet areas of 6 degrees by 4 degrees.
More than 23 million line kilometres (covering 75% of the country) of high resolution (500 metres spacing) airborne magnetic and gamma-ray spectrometric data are available in digital and image map formats.
A gravity database of Australia , with a nominal station spacing of 11 kilometres, is available as gravity anomaly maps (at scales of 1:5 million, 1:1 million and 1:250,000) as well as a gridded (0.5 minute) gravity anomaly dataset. South Australia, Tasmania and part of New South Wales are covered at a spacing of 7 kilometres. Victoria has station coverage of approximately 1.5 kilometres. Over the past ten years more detailed data, including new surveys at 2 to 4 kilometres station spacing, conducted by the Australian Governments, are available for selected offshore and onshore provinces. This recent exploration activity has seen the gravity database grow to 1.4 million onshore stations.
Magnetic, radiometric and gravity data from the national databases at GA are available for free download from the Australian Government geoscience portal at: www.geoscience.gov.au/gadds
Geoscience Australia holds an extensive database of bathymetry from ship trackline soundings acquired since 1963 and swath bathymetry data acquired using modern techniques. A grid with a cell size of 250 metres can be obtained from Geoscience Australia. The bathymetry grid has been used for research and analysis as a fundamental layer in geological, technical and environmental studies. The grid is not designed for use as a navigational aid or research into safety at sea, for which special products are prepared by the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Office.
The Australian Government's Spatial Data Access and Pricing Policy provides for free access to its on-line fundamental spatial data. Spatial data not available on-line is provided at the marginal cost of transfer. The policy also removes restrictions on commercial use or value-adding activities related to Australian Government spatial data.
The website of the Office of Spatial Data Management (www.osdm.gov.au) lists all data available under the terms of the policy and has online links to the spatial data custodian websites. The list of data available under the terms of the policy is constantly expanding.
Australian Geological Provinces Database
The Australian Geological Provinces Database provides interpretive data on Australia's sedimentary, igneous, metallogenic, structural and metamorphic provinces. The database has been jointly developed and populated by the Minerals Division of Geoscience Australia , which concentrates on onshore geological provinces, and the Petroleum and Marine Division which captures data for offshore sedimentary basins. Geoscience Australia works closely with State and Territory authorities and industry to provide the most up-to-date interpretations. The database provides the mapped extent of Australia's geological provinces, and includes attributes such as size, water depth, tectonic setting, age, sediment thickness, main rock types, depositional environments, main resources, key references, and relations to other geological provinces. It also includes an overview of the geology, exploration status, and petroleum system elements of each province.
The Australian Geological Provinces Database is available online. Access to the database is provided through the Geoscience Australia website using an interactive mapping system, at: http://www.ga.gov.au/provexplorer/
The interface allows users to view and select provinces of interest based on key attributes, and to add key map layers (exploration data, surface geology, images and bathymetry). Database extracts are provided as an html report, and include links to key images (structural element maps, regional cross-sections, stratigraphic and petroleum system charts).
This database interface provides explorers with basic geological information on all offshore sedimentary basins, and many of their component sub-basins, along Australia's continental margin.
Open File Exploration Database
Petroleum legislation in Australia generally requires companies to submit data and technical reports on their exploration activities as part of their obligations following the grant of an exploration title. Under Australia's Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act, data resulting from exploration activities in Commonwealth offshore areas are made publicly available after certain periods depending on the nature of the data, the title status of an area and whether data was acquired on a proprietary or non-exclusive basis. Basic data generally becomes available after a period of two to three years, ranging up to fifteen years for data from non-exclusive 3D seismic surveys. A five kilometre 2D grid extracted from 3D non-exclusive seismic surveys is publicly available after 5 years.
The bulk of data from operations on Australia's continental shelf, comprising seismic and well survey information and cores, cuttings and reports, is stored by Geoscience Australia at its Geology and Geophysics Data Repository, and in relevant State/NT repositories.
Geoscience Australia provides internet access to data through the Petroleum Information Management System (PIMS), www.ga.gov.au/oracle/npd/ which provides on line ordering for loan requests and interrogation of data holdings.
Geoscience Australian Offshore Acreage Release Data Room and Data Packages
The Data Room located at Geoscience Australia's offices in Canberra was officially opened in July 2007. This facility offers free, secure access to the latest seismic and geological data supporting the current Australian Offshore Petroleum Acreage Release, and is available to all Australian and international petroleum exploration companies. Over 500 GB of data including 227,000 kilometres of 2D seismic and eleven 3D surveys are loaded for viewing on the workstations. Bookings to visit the Data Room can be made by visiting: www.ga.gov.au/oceans/oar_DataRoom.jsp or E-mail: email@example.com
In addition to the Data Room, data packages are available at the cost of transfer for the annual Acreage Release consisting of open file 2D and 3D processed work-station-ready seismic data and well information. Seismic data is available in Geoframe, Kingdom and Landmark formats. Digital well completion reports and logs for specific wells are available in original format.
Data packages can be ordered through the Geophysical Data Repository, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Australian Marine Spatial Information System
The Australian Marine Spatial Information System (AMSIS) is an on-line mapping and decision support tool that presents a vast array of Commonwealth interests in Australia's marine jurisdiction. With the cooperation of other Government and private sector agencies, this system integrates administrative boundary information including petroleum leases with scientific data against other background data such as bathymetry.
AMSIS is easy to use and provides access to data via a web browser for those interested in the marine environment without the need for specialised software or mapping skills. AMSIS not only displays 'what is out there', but also allows users to query the information, view metadata, and conduct more advanced functions such as return the nearest distance from a point to a nominated boundary.
AMSIS can be found on the web at www.ga.gov.au/amsis