Citation

Geoscience Australia provides most of its products for free under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. We only require that you reference the use of our data or information using the following citation:
Habermehl, M.A., 1980. The Great Artesian Basin, Australia. BMR Journal of Australian Geology and Geophysics  5:1:9-38. Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, Canberra.

Abstract

The Great Artesian Basin occupies 1.7 X 10^6 km^2, or about one-fifth of Australia, extending across parts of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, and the Northern Territory. It underlies arid and semi-arid regions where surface water is sparse and unreliable. The discovery of the basins groundwater resources around 1880, and their subsequent development, have allowed an important pastoral industry to be established. Pastoral activity and town water supplies are to a very large extent dependent on artesian groundwater. The groundwater basin consist of a multi-layered confined aquifer system, with aquifers occurring in continental quartzose sandstones of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous age. The intervening confining beds consist of siltstone and mudstone; a thick argillaceous sequence of sediments of marine origin and Cretaceous age forms the main confining unit. The basin is, in places, 3000 m thick, and forms a large synclinal structure, uplifted and exposed along its eastern margin and tilted southwest. Recharge occurs mainly in the eastern marginal zone, and large-scale groundwater movement is generally towards the southwestern, western and southern margins. Natural discharge occurs from spring in these areas; most springs are connected with structural features. Minor recharge occurs in the western margin. The potentiometric surfaces of the Triassic, Jurassic and Early Cretaceous aquifers are still above groundlevel in most areas of the basin. Considerable lowering occurred in heavily developed areas; from about 1880 to 1970, regional differences of up to 80 m were recorded, and in some areas waterwells ceased to flow. Water levels of some Cretaceous aquifers are below the groundsurface throughout most of the basin area. Hydraulic gradients of the main aquifers in the Lower Cretaceous-Jurassic sequence are about 1:2000, and of aquifers in the Cretaceous sequence 1:1800. Transmissivity values of the main aquifers in the Lower Cretaceous-Jurassic sequence, from which most flowing artesian wells obtain their water, usually are several tens to several hundreds m^2/day. Hydraulic conductivities range from 0.1 to 10 m/day, with a predominance in the lower part of the range. Storage coefficients, as interpreted from wire-line logs, average about 10^-5. Aquifer thicknesses range from several metres to several hundred metres. Average groundwater velocity in the eastern marginal parts is from 1 to 5 m/year. Environmental isotope analysis shows that the artesian water is of meteoric origin. About 4700 flowing artesian wells have been drilled to depths of up to 2000 m, but average 500 m. Individual flows exceeding 10 000 m^3/day have been recorded. About 3100 wells remained flowing during the early 1970s, when the accumulated artificial discharge was about 1.5 X 10^6 m^3/day, as compared to the maximum flow from the basin of about 2 X 10^6 m^3/day from about 1500 artesian wells around 1918. The high initial discharge in the early years of exploitation, which was caused by the release of pressure in the aquifers, gradually levelled off, and has now approached a steady-state condition, in which total basin discharge is roughly balanced by recharge. Non-flowing artesian water-wells mainly in the higher Cretaceous aquifers number about 20 000, and are generally shallow, up to several hundred metres deep, and are usually equipped with windmill-operated pumps, supplying on average about 10 m^3/day each. Most flowing wells occur in the marginal areas of the basin, as the main aquifers in the Lower Cretaceous-Jurassic sequence which they tap are too deep for economical abstraction in the central part of the basin. In the central part mainly non-flowing shallow wells are found.
Google map showing geographic bounding box with values North bound -9.0 East bound 154.0 West bound 134.0 South bound -34.0
Downloads
For information on acquiring this product,
please contact Geoscience Australia Client Services via:

fax:
+61 2 6249 9960; or
phone:
1800 800 173 (within Australia);
 
+61 2 6249 9966 (outside Australia).

Product Type/Sub Type

nonGeographicDataset - GA Publication - Journal

Constraints

license
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence

IP Owner

Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia)

Author(s)

Date (publication)

1980

Product Type

nonGeographicDataset

Topic Category

geoscientificInformation

Keywords

GA Publication
Journal
Earth Sciences

Resource Language

English

Resource Character Set

utf8

Resource Security Classification

unclassified

Geographic Extent

North bound
-9.0
East bound
154.0
West bound
134.0
South bound
-34.0

Lineage

Unknown

Digital Transfer Options

onLine

DISTRIBUTION Format

pdf

Distributor

Role
distributor
Organisation Name
Geoscience Australia
City
Canberra
Administrative Area
ACT
Postal Code
2601
Country
Australia
Email Address

Metadata File Identifier

fae9173a-6fd9-71e4-e044-00144fdd4fa6

Metadata Standard Name

ANZLIC Metadata Profile: An Australian/New Zealand Profile of AS/NZS ISO 19115:2005, Geographic information - Metadata

Metadata Standard Version

1.1

Metadata Date Stamp

2015-05-19

METADATA SECURITY CLASSIFICATION

unclassified

Metadata Contact

Role
pointOfContact
Organisation Name
Geoscience Australia
City
Canberra
Administrative Area
ACT
Postal Code
2601
Country
Australia
Email Address
Downloads
For information on acquiring this product,
please contact Geoscience Australia Client Services via:

fax:
+61 2 6249 9960; or
phone:
1800 800 173 (within Australia);
 
+61 2 6249 9966 (outside Australia).