Study provides frontier's first regional synthesis

13 September 2012


Location map showing the bathymetry and main geological features of the Tasman Frontier region

Location map showing the bathymetry
and main geological features of the
Tasman Frontier region.
Original map figure supplied by GNS Science.


A multi national collaboration has resulted in development of the first ever regional synthesis of geological and petroleum prospectivity studies undertaken in the Tasman Frontier region of the Southwest Pacific Ocean.

The Tasman Frontier region is located in an area extending over almost three million square kilometres between the maritime jurisdictions of Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand.

The joint basin studies, undertaken by Geoscience Australia, New Zealand's GNS Science and the Government of New Caledonia, have yielded encouraging results for petroleum prospectivity of the region, which is one of the largest unexplored potential petroleum resource regions in the world.

Plate tectonic reconstructions indicate there are possible geological similarities between the survey region and the oil and gas producing Gippsland Basin in Australia and Taranaki Basin in New Zealand.

High-resolution seismic reflection data, some of which were acquired during the Australian Government's Energy Security Initiative (2006–11), also indicate the presence of multiple basins with maximum sediment thickness of between five and seven kilometres.

Geoscience Australia geologist, Dr Riko Hashimoto says that interpretation of data and comparison with nearby basins, including the Taranaki Basin, suggests that potential hydrocarbon source, reservoir and seal rocks may be present in a number of areas across the Tasman Frontier region.

"Basin modelling suggests that, if source rocks are present, several basins are potentially capable of generating oil and gas," Dr Hashimoto said.

"However, because of differences in the amount of sedimentation during the Cenozoic era approximately 66 million years ago, the timing and volume of any hydrocarbon generation is likely to vary substantially between the western and the eastern areas of the Tasman Frontier region," he said.

"Although the studies have suggested that the Tasman Frontier region has the potential to host petroleum resources, the interpretations will need to be confirmed with targeted follow-up data acquisition surveys," Dr Hashimoto said.

Details of the research program will be presented by Dr Hashimoto and his colleague, Dr Nadège Rollet, at the 4th Eastern Australasian Basins Symposium in Brisbane this week.

Topic contact: media@ga.gov.au Last updated: October 4, 2013