Australian geological provinces revealed


A man sitting on a rock reading a map.

A scientist refers to a map while
considering the surrounding geology.

A new dataset which provides a perspective of Australia through geological time will help researchers and resource exploration companies develop a greater understanding of what lies beneath the continent and part of its offshore jurisdiction.

The Australian Geological Provinces dataset, which has been compiled by Geoscience Australia, contains descriptions and extents of Australia's fundamental geological elements such as sedimentary basins and tectonic provinces, including cratons and orogens, as well as igneous and metallogenic provinces.

The dataset contains information about basins and tectonic provinces ranging in age from the Archean Eon to the present day.

The Chief of Geoscience Australia's Minerals and Natural Hazards Division, Dr Andy Barnicoat, said the full two-dimensional spatial extent of each province has been captured, including the extent of provinces under overlying cover material, as well as the amount of outcrop of many provinces.

"Where possible, the full extent outlines of provinces have been defined along with information about the source, accuracy, and interpretation method used to identify the outlines," Dr Barnicoat said.

"The dataset also provides details of the age, geological history, rock types, mineral resources and the relationships to other provinces," he said.

"Every effort has been made to achieve a consensus definition and extent of each province, including significant collaboration with the State and Northern Territory geological surveys, but scientific debate will always occur on the nature and extent of some provinces.

"Although the dataset is not a complete representation yet of all of Australia's geological provinces, it is the most comprehensive national dataset available and further work is under way in conjunction with the State and Northern Territory geological surveys to compile a complete national coverage for all of Australia's geological provinces," Dr Barnicoat said.

The dataset and its associated maps will provide further pre-competitive information to assist explorers evaluate areas considered to have potential for economically viable mineral and energy resources," Dr Barnicoat said.

The Australian Geological Provinces dataset is available for free download.