Remote Eastern Frontiers Project
Overview:The Remote Eastern Frontiers project aimed to provide a geological and petroleum prospectivity assessment of the Capel, Faust and surrounding deepwater frontier basins within Australia’s far eastern marine jurisdiction. The project was completed as part of the Offshore Energy Security Program and encompassed studies of basement, basin stratigraphy, structure, tectonic evolution and potential petroleum systems. Acquisition of new data through marine surveys filled some critical data gaps and underpinned basin assessment. The project outputs will help to characterise the basins as a petroleum exploration frontier and reduce exploration risk. Additional information on this project can be found in AusGeo News 99.
Methodology:The key data sets for the project include 2D seismic reflection, seismic refraction (sonobuoy), gravity, magnetic, multibeam bathymetry and rock sample data. 3D visualisation and geological modelling assisted the analysis of geological relationships from the basement through to the seafloor, and the testing interpretations and geological hypotheses. Gravity anomaly was found to be a reliable indicator of basement topography within the study area. Using this relationship, the sediment thickness distribution interpreted from seismic data was tested by 3D gravity modelling. In the absence of direct evidence, regional tectonic reconstructions and analogue basin studies were integrated with seismic interpretations to infer the composition and age of the basin sediments and the basement, and the likely presence of petroleum system elements. Multibeam bathymetry and seismic data were integrated to map seafloor geology and fluid migration pathways, providing an indication of seal integrity and the relationship between seafloor features and subsurface geological processes. Basin modelling, carried out in collaboration with GNS Science, tested for the hydrocarbon generation and expulsion potential of the basins.
Status:This project concluded on 30 June 2011.
Achievements to date:
AUSFAIR (Australia–Fairway Basin Bathymetry and Sampling) Survey (MD-153):This joint French–Australian reconnaissance survey of the Fairway, New Caledonia, Capel and Faust Basins was completed in February 2006 using the French vessel RV Marion Dufresne. Seven giant CALYPSO piston cores, rock samples, heatflow measurements, swath bathymetry, sub-bottom profiler, gravity and magnetic data were collected. The survey tested for indications of gas hydrate occurrences in the area, previously suggested by bottom-simulating reflectors (BSRs) seen on seismic data. The analysis of collected data indicates that gas hydrates do not occur in the area. Dredge sampling recovered alkaline volcanic rocks, which have been dated by U-Pb ion microprobe to 97 and 74 Ma.
Capel-Faust Seismic Survey (GA-302):Approximately 6000 line kilometres of high-quality 2D seismic data were collected along 23 lines over the Capel and Faust Basins during November 2006 and January 2007. (AusGeo News 86) The CGG-operated vessel MV Pacific Titan used an 8km solid streamer to record data to 12s two-way time (TWT). The survey also collected gravity, magnetic and refraction (sonobuoy) data. The seismic data imaged the bottom of deep sedimentary depocentres for the first time, confirming that sediment thicknesses within the basins were sufficient for hydrocarbon generation.
TAN0713 Marine Reconnaissance Survey (GA-2436):This multidisciplinary survey used the New Zealand vessel RV Tangaroa to acquire approximately 40 000km2 of multibeam bathymetry, 14 000 line km of gravity and magnetic data, rock, biological and oceanographic data and video footage from 46 sites in the central Capel Basin, southwestern Faust Basin and Gifford Guyot. (AusGeo News 89) The survey aimed to refine gravity and magnetic data coverage over the largest sedimentary depocentres of the basins and to map seafloor habitats. The high-resolution bathymetry data imaged seafloor features in unprecendented detail, revealing the effects of recent magmatic activity and fluid migration on the seafloor.
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