Phanerozoic Synthesis Project

This project concluded 30 June 2008.


This project brought together and synthesised data and interpretation on aspects of the Australian Phanerozoic Era from both external and internal sources. It aimed to use these data and interpretations to facilitate understanding at a continental scale of the geodynamics and tectonics operating during the Phanerozoic Era, concentrating on the period 600-220Ma, in order to make predictions about the potential for undiscovered mineral systems.

The Australian Phanerozoic Era geological provinces host many significant ore deposits, including lead-zinc, gold, copper-gold, tin, tungsten, molybdenum, uranium, zinc and titanium. Exploration within these regions has been strongly commodity focussed. Accordingly, individual regions vary from strongly explored brownfields for certain commodities, and for specific exploration models, to frontier greenfields for other commodities and for exploration models based on new deposit-style models such as intrusion-related gold. Understanding the tectonics and geodynamics of these regions and the metallogenic implications of those features is fundamental to the prediction of the minerals systems and possible mineralisation which have not been considered previously.

Location map showing the distribution of eastern Australian orogens. Orogen names follow Glen (2005). Orogen boundaries from Glen (2005), VandenBerg et al. (2000), Seymour and Calver (1995), Bain and Draper (1997), and unpublished GA-GSQ Nd isotope data for the eastern Thomson Orogen. The Thomson Orogen boundary has been extended to the north to include the Cape River and Barnard Provinces of Bain and Draper (1997). The Cape River Province is also included in the North Queensland Orogen, given its uncertain parentage. The Bowen-Gunnedah-Sydney Basin outline is from Geoscience Australia's 'Basins' national data set. The boundary of the Lachlan and Delamerian orogens is problematical and is either the western margin of the Bendigo or the Stawell zones (see Glen, 2005). We show it as a transitional zone.

Figure 1: Location map showing
the distribution of eastern
Australian orogens.
© Geoscience Australia

The following regions (Figure 1) were part of this project:

  • Lachlan Orogen (Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales)
  • New England Orogen (New South Wales, Queensland)
  • Thomson Orogen (New South Wales, Queensland)
  • North Queensland Orogen.

The project aimed to enhance the energy and mineral prospectivity for the Phanerozoic regions of eastern Australia through:

  • improved understanding of regional events/tectonic history and metallogenic implications
  • improved understanding of basement structure and craton boundaries
  • improved understanding of the largely undercover Thompson Fold Belt
  • improved geochronology of important energy and mineral deposits.

Special projects

A number of special projects were initiated as part of the Phanerozoic Synthesis Project, including:

  • Samarium-Neodymium isotope maps of northern and southeast Australia
  • dating of selected minerals deposits of eastern Australia
  • geochronology for sediment provenance studies in New England and Thompson Orogen sediments.

Results from the special projects are currently being written up. Preliminary results are included within the synthesis report as well as within the downloadable presentations listed below in the project outputs.

Project outcome

Promoting opportunities for investment in mineral exploration through new pre-competitive geoscience information from syntheses of Australia's Phanerozoic Era geological provinces with the desired outcome of increasing mineral exploration leading to the discovery of energy and mineral deposits.

Project outputs


  1. Glen, R.A. 2005. 'The Tasmanides of eastern Australia', Terrane Processes at the Margins of Gondwana. Geological Society of London Special Publication 246, pp. 23-96
  2. VandenBerg, A.H.M., Willman, C.E., Maher, S., Simons, B.A., Cayley, R.A., Taylor, D.H., Morand, V.J., Moore, D.H and Radojkovic, A. 2000 (eds.) The Tasman Fold Belt in Victoria. Geological Survey of Victoria, Special Publication, Melbourne, 462 pp.
  3. Seymour, D.B. and Calver, C.R (compilers). 1995. Explanatory notes for the time-space diagram and stratotectonic elements map of Tasmania: TASGO NGMA project, sub-project 1: geological synthesis. Mineral Resources Tasmania. Tasmanian Geological Survey Record 1995/01, 62 pp.
  4. Bain, J.H.C. and Draper, J.J (eds). 1997. North Queensland Geology. Bulletin of the Australian Geological Survey Organisation 240, and Queensland Department of Mines and Energy Geology 9.