The study of geofluids involves research into the origin, evolution and migration of fluids within the Earth and is a term used to describe any fluids which are involved in the dynamic processes that occur within the Earth from the surface to the core. In the middle and upper crust for example, geofluids play a paramount role in geological processes such as diagenesis, metamorphism, deformation and magmatism as well as in mineral and petroleum systems.

Fluids within the Earth may exist as vapour or liquid or mixtures of both. At higher temperatures and pressures they also may exist as supercritical fluids, or fluids with properties between those of gas and a liquid. Samples of fluids near the Earth’s surface, such as groundwater, hydrocarbons and geothermal fluids, can be obtained by drilling beneath the surface but samples of fluids from processes which occur deeper within the Earth may occur only as microscopic fluid inclusions trapped within crystals in the rocks. Sometimes, there are no remaining traces of the original fluids in the rocks and geochemical modelling has to be used to simulate the chemical and physical behaviour of geofluids in various geological processes.

Geoscience Australia maintains a variety of high quality, state-of-the-art facilities for the analysis of hydrocarbons, groundwater and fluid inclusions. Researchers also use a variety of multidimensional geochemical modelling programs to study the origin, evolution and likely migration paths of geofluids in various processes, such as mineral and petroleum systems, geothermal systems and groundwater migration.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013