Darling Basin

Location Map

Location Map of Darling Basin in relation to Australia

Location Map of Darling Basin in relation to Australia

Basin Details and Geological Overview

The Darling Basin occupies approximately 100 000km2 of western New South Wales, ringed in the north by the towns of Broken Hill, Wilcannia and Cobar and stretching southward to near the Murray River.

The Darling Basin is a Late Silurian to Early Carboniferous sedimentary basin within the Tasman Fold Belt System of eastern Australia. It overlies basement disjunctions coinciding with boundaries between the Kanmantoo, Lachlan and southern Thomson Fold Belts. The bulk of strata are Devonian with a known thickness of up to 8000 metres. They largely comprise continental red-bed facies but probably include marginal marine facies in the latest Silurian and the Early Devonian. Most of the basin is veneered by Murray Basin Cainozoic sediments. Seismic sequence analysis has identified an orogenic event/unconformity associated with the Tabberabberan Orogeny (~Emsian) and a prominent basin structuring/termination event associated with the Kanimblan/Alice Springs Orogeny (Middle Carboniferous).

The Darling Basin has been only sparsely explored with most wells sited on poorly-defined structures. Exploration drilling commenced in 1963 and has continued sporadically with about a dozen wells having been located largely in the western part of the Basin. Indications of the possible presence of petroleum include gas of unknown origin seeping from water bores, potential source rocks in sparsely sampled Early Devonian and a few "shows" reported from wells. Reservoir units have good porosity and permeability. Cambrian to Ordovician carbonates and shales, where present beneath the basin, could also be potential source rocks

The Moomba to Sydney pipeline crosses the basin, making it an attractive place to find gas for the burgeoning eastern seaboard market.

Key References

Author(s) Year Title
Alder, J.D., Bembrick, C., Hartung-Kagi, B., Mullard, B., Pratt, D.A., Scott, J. and Shaw, R.D. 1998 A re-assessment of the petroleum potential of the Darling Basin: a Discovery 2000 initiative. The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Journal, 38(1), 278-312.
Bembrick, C. 1997 The Darling Basin Devonian Sequence: a re-appraisal / preliminary report. New South Wales Mineral Resources Report GS1997/214
Brown, C.M., Jackson, K.S., Lockwood, K.L. and Passmore, V.L. 1982 Source rock potential and hydrocarbon prospectivity of the Darling Basin. BMR Journal of Australian Geology and Geophysics, 7, 23-33
Department of Mineral Resources, New South Wales 1992 Petroleum Data Package. Department of Mineral Resources New South Wales publication
Direen, N., Crawford, A. and Willcox, J.B. 2000 Structure and geological evolution of the Koonenberry Fold Belt, NSW: implications for mineralisation. Broken Hill Conference Abstracts.
Evans, P.R. 1977 Petroleum geology of western New South Wales, The APEA Journal, 17 (1) 42-49
Glen, R.A. 1992 Thrust, extensional and strike-slip tectonics in an evolving Palaeozoic orogen - a structural synthesis of the Lachlan Orogen of southeastern Australia. Tectonophysics, 214, 341-380
Mullard, B. 1995 New South Wales' Petroleum Potential, in Morton and others (Editors) "New South Wales Petroleum Symposium", Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia, New South Wales Branch, Sydney, 5-6
New South Wales Department of Mineral Resources 1993 Darling Basin Petroleum Data Package. New South Wales Department of Mineral Resources, Sydney
New South Wales Department of Mineral Resources 1994 Darling Basin Geophysical Program Interpretation Report by Encom Technology Pty Limited
Playford, G. 1997 Palynological report on twenty samples from Kewell East DDH-1, Darling Basin, New South Wales. Geological Survey of New South Wales Report GS1997/205
Scheibner, E. and Basden, H., (Editors) 1996 Geology of New South Wales - Synthesis. Volume 1 Structural Framework. Geological Survey of New South Wales, Memoir Geology 13 (1) 295p.
Sharp, C.I. and Mclaughlin, R.J.W. 1986 Hydrological anomalies and hydrocarbon exploration, in R.C. GLENIE (Editor) Technical Papers presented at the PESA Symposium 14-15 November 1986, Melbourne. Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia, 451-463
Shaw, Raymond D. 1995 Petroleum Potential in the Eastern Darling Basin, New South Wales. IN: PESA, NSW Branch Proceedings, 1995 NSW Petroleum Symposium (Editor Morton D. et al.) 5 - 6 October, Darling Harbour, Sydney.
Shaw, Russell D., Wellman, P., Gunn, P., Whitaker, A.J., Tarlowski, C. and Morse, M. 1996 Guide to using the Australian Crustal Elements Map. Australian Geological Survey Organisation Record 1996/30
Willcox, J.B., Yeates, A.N., Meixner, A.J. and Shaw, R.D. 2004 Structural evolution and potential petroleum plays in the Darling Basin (Pondie Range Trough - Mount Jack area). Geoscience Australia Record, 2003/05
Willcox, J.B., Johnstone, D., Wake-Dyster, K., Leven, J.H., Yeates, A.N. and Shaw, R.D. 2000 A deep-crustal seismic image through the Bancannia Trough and Koonenberry Zone, NSW. Preview, ASEG Conference Handbook, 114, 14th ASEG International Conference, Perth.
Young. G.C. and Laurie, J.R. 1996 An Australian Phanerozoic Timescale. Oxford University Press

Topic contact: petroleum@ga.gov.au Last updated: December 3, 2012