East Kimberley

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Map of the East Kimberley Project area showing the location of existing and potential irrigation areas, proposed prawn farm, mineral occurrences and petroleum wells.

The East Kimberley region is prospective for future development of agriculture, conventional and unconventional energy, and mineral resources. The region is endowed with good road, port and energy infrastructure, with a local labour force based in Kununurra. Regional water security is provided by Australia's second largest surface dam (Lake Argyle). However, additional water security is required, particularly in upland areas where the costs are high.

Groundwater investigations will focus on the Keep and Ord Valleys and upland areas in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The project will map groundwater prospectivity, and the potential impacts associated with groundwater and agriculture in this region.

The main objectives of the project are to:

  • Identify the location, quantity and quality of new and existing groundwater resources in sedimentary basin and palaeovalley aquifers;
  • Assess the potential for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) options to provide local storage and to manage salinity and seawater intrusion; and
  • De-risk resource and agricultural investment, and inform water management options, including infrastructure development and water banking based on baseline hydrogeological data.


The project will deliver new data and products including:

  • High-resolution LiDAR digital elevation data;
  • Airborne electromagnetic and magnetic data;
  • Borehole datasets (e.g. geophysics, hydrogeology, hydrochemistry) compiled from existing and new bores;
  • Surface nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) dataset;
  • Geomorphic, geologic, hydrogeologic, hydrostratigraphic and hazard maps; and
  • A technical report describing groundwater prospectivity, assessment of MAR options, revised geological and hydrogeological conceptual models, and groundwater-dependent vegetation analysis.

New data acquisition

In 2017 the project collected:

  • 13,379 line-kilometre airborne electromagnetic and magnetic survey;
  • 7,920 km2 LiDAR survey;
  • 1403 passive seismic and gravity survey sites;
  • 161 surface nuclear magnetic resonance survey sites;
  • 34 boreholes logged for induction and gamma;
  • 6 boreholes logged for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR);
  • 16 groundwater samples;
  • 10 surface water samples; and
  • Landscape mapping.