Paterson Project

This project concluded 30 June 2007.

Project description

The Paterson project conducted research into the geological and metallogenic framework of the Paterson region, Western Australia.

The region contains poorly exposed Neoproterozoic sedimentary successions in the northwest Paterson Orogen which are host to significant deposits of:

  • gold-copper (Telfer, Magnum)
  • base metal (Nifty, Maroochydore)
  • uranium (Kintyre).

The Paterson region is considered highly prospective for gold-copper and base metal mineral systems.

National Geoscience Agreement

The Paterson project was a National Geoscience Agreement (NGA) project. The NGA is an umbrella for a series of bilateral work programs between Geoscience Australia and the State and Northern Territory Geological Surveys. The Paterson project was a cooperative venture with the Geological Survey of Western Australia in which Geoscience Australia provided specialist expertise. The project followed on from geological mapping of the region at 1:100 000-scale by the Geological Survey of Western Australia (Bagas and others, 1991-2003), which also acquired new airborne geophysical and ground gravity data for the project.

Aims of the Paterson project

The Paterson project aimed to develop an understanding of the depositional history of the Neoproterozoic stratigraphy, its subsequent deformation(s) and magmatism, and its mineral systems. This project investigated and integrated sedimentary facies, geophysical properties, structural elements and other post-depositional processes, such as granite emplacement, to understand their relationships to the mineral systems in the region.

Geological maps of the Paterson Orogen divide the Neoproterozoic sedimentary successions into the Tarcunyah Group of the northwest Officer Basin and the Throssell and Lamil Groups of the Yeneena Basin (Bagas, 2004, Precambrian Research, vol 128, pp 475-496). Each is separated by major regional northeast to southwest trending fault systems and no established correlation of formations between any of the groups currently exists. This study has developed an independent sequence stratigraphic interpretation for the formations comprising each of the three groups. Constrained by detrital zircon U-Pb and carbonate Pb-Pb ages, this provided depositional constraints on possible inter-group stratigraphic correlations.

The structures and sediments of the Paleozoic Canning Basin and Cainozoic cover, which are present throughout the region, complicate resolving problems in the understanding of the stratigraphy. In particular, Permian sediments within the Waukarlycarly Embayment separate the regions in which the Lamil and Throssell Groups crop out by at least 20 kilometres. Understanding the stratigraphy, structure and geometry of the Neoproterozoic rocks beneath the Waukarlycarly Embayment is a critical aspect of this project and has been achieved by integrating drillcore logs with structural information derived from potential field interpretations and new seismic data.

These issues have been addressed through the collection and analysis of geological, geochemical, geochronological and geophysical datasets, with an emphasis on the Neoproterozoic successions necessary to determine the time-series basin and magmatic framework. To assist in constraining this third dimension, a semi-detailed gravity survey has been conducted in the Paterson region. These results were used in combination with aeromagnetic data to model the 3D geologic architecture of this area. In addition, satellite hyperspectral techniques, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), in conjunction with ground truthing using Portable Infra-Red Mineral Analyser (PIMA), were used to investigate the background signatures of the Neoproterozoic successions as well as identify areas with anomalous signatures.

Key objectives of the Paterson project

  • construct basin-scale structural and sequence-stratigraphic framework of the Neoproterozoic sedimentary successions in the Paterson region
  • constrain timing and processes of basin development, felsic and mafic magmatism and tectonism during the Neoproterozoic in and adjacent to the Paterson region
  • develop a depth to Neoproterozoic contour map of the region
  • determine 3D crustal architecture of Paterson region.

These datasets and knowledge have improved the regional geological framework of the Paterson region and have provided significant new insights into the temporal and spatial controls on ore formation which will be of use to the mineral exploration industry in area selection and risk reduction.

Project outcome

Enhanced mineral exploration strategies and promotion of the Paterson region for mineral exploration through provision of an improved geological framework.

Project outputs

Following completion of the Paterson project in 2007, airborne electromagnetic data was acquired for this region as a part of the Airborne Electromagnetics Project.

Regional geophysical surveys

In conjunction with Geoscience Australia, the Geological Survey of Western Australia conducted an extensive airborne magnetic and radiometric survey and a smaller ground gravity survey in the Paterson region. More than 200 000 line-kilometres of magnetic and radiometric data was acquired over an area of approximately 70 000 square kilometres in the Paterson-Rudall region. The data was acquired on lines spaced 400 metres apart with a nominal clearance of 60 metres above ground. The gravity survey involved the acquisition and processing of approximately 4000 new gravity stations on a 2.5 by 2.5 kilometre grid.

For more information, or to access the data, contact the Geological Survey of Western Australia.