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Musgraves water and mineral potential

New electromagnetic data will help define water and mineral resource potential in the Far North West.

Figure 1 Musgrave AEM data at depth slice 80–110 m below surface.
Figure 1 Musgrave AEM data at depth slice 80–110 m below surface.

A total of 17,395 line kilometres of airborne electromagnetic (AEM) data recorded in the Musgrave Province in 2016 has been released via the South Australian Resources Information Gateway (SARIG, see below; Fig. 1). Acquisition, the first since 2012, was co-funded by the Government of South Australia’s PACE initiative.

The Musgrave Province covers an area of approximately 120,000 km2, straddling the border between South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The area is highly prospective for nickel–copper – platinum group element deposits, but discoveries within the South Australian region have been limited due to issues around land access, extensive cover, and a lack of geoscientific mapping, information and data.

The latest AEM data reveals new insights into the geology under the Musgrave Province. It will have a twofold effect: allowing regional communities access to information regarding groundwater resource potential; and assisting exploration companies with improved targeting of potential resources.

Survey details

The first survey – High Moment, fixed wing, TEMPEST – was flown between 18 August and 17 September 2016 by CGG Aviation (Australia) Pty Ltd. Located on the west side of the total survey area, it comprised 8,595 line kilometres of data. Survey lines were oriented 177–357°, line spacing was 2 km and nominal terrain clearance was 120 m.

The second survey – helicopter mounted SkyTEM – was flown between 9 September and 13 October 2016 by SkyTEM (Australia) Pty Ltd. Located to the north and east of the total survey area, it comprised 8,800 line kilometres of data. Survey lines were oriented north–south, line spacing was 2 km, 500 m and 250 m, and nominal terrain clearance was 45 m.

Survey data has been merged together into a single seamless image shown in Figure 1: the left portion shows results of the CGG TEMPEST survey and the right side shows SkyTEM survey data. The data, which shows the conductivity of the earth at a depth between 80–110 m, clearly reveals features that correspond to paleochannels.

The surveys were run by Geoscience Australia in partnership with the Geological Survey of South Australia (through PACE), the Goyder Institute of Water Research, CSIRO and PepinNini Minerals Limited.

  • Download the dataset (2016SA002) via the New Releases area of SARIG
  • Read about the Goyder Institute's plans to drill hydrogeological wells to validate the AEM data.

– Phil Heath, Chris Wilcox and Tania Davies

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