Innovative government geoscience to drive new discoveries

16 October 2018

Exploring for the Future significantly increasing the exploration potential of northern Australia. 

The Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program led by Geoscience Australia is taking a lead in creating new scientific methods, data and models to better understand the mineral, energy and groundwater resource potential of northern Australia.

EFTF is generating what is commonly referred to as "pre-competitive" data on existing and potential mineral-rich regions to reduce geological risk for private explorers, encourage investment and improve the likelihood of important discoveries.

Around eighty per cent of Australia's landmass remains underexplored, as resources in these parts of Australia occur further below the surface, and northern Australia has enormous untapped potential.

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Current and planned EFTF activities.

Geoscience Australia's Chief of Resources Division, Dr Andrew Heap said the program represents a step-change in data acquisition and scientific analysis, driven by new ideas that could better predict where potential resources are buried deep under cover.

"There is great potential to find the next big deposit under cover, and we are taking the lead in delivering high resolution geoscientific data and products to address major information gaps and prospectivity questions, particularly in greenfield regions.

"The fundamental geoscience information being collected and released by Geoscience Australia will be used by private industry to underpin future exploration investment, potentially leading to that elusive new tier 1 discovery.

"The program has already released several major new datasets and is building the tools to deliver integrated data in a decision-ready format that will make it accessible to a broad range of users."

Now halfway through the four-year program, the team are producing exciting scientific results that will significantly increase the potential search space for exploration.

The world's largest aerial electromagnetic data acquired across a region the combined size of France and Germany shows electrical conductivity to a depth of around 500 metres and will be interpreted to provide unprecedented insight into the depth of cover, groundwater and potential mineralisation.

The delivery of new groundwater information will also support Australia's environmental outcomes. The program is integrating several methods to build a comprehensive picture of groundwater resources, ensuring communities have access to water supply, and the development of sustainable agriculture is supported.


Aerial photograph from a drone showing a large flat and dry field, with a straight road running through it. On the road are three trucks that are used to record seismic data.


Trucks on the Barkly Highway, Queensland, working on a seismic survey.

Dr Heap said not only are we delivering new data acquisition approaches, we are integrating existing and newly acquired datasets and interrogating them using advanced analytical techniques.

"For example, we are currently combining soil geochemistry data with satellite imaging via machine learning to better predict where the greatest resource potential may be and the results are very exciting."

Exploring for the Future is bringing the science together to improve government, industry and community understanding of the potential resources in northern Australia that underpins policy decisions and leads to increased private exploration investment across the region.

These types of pre-competitive geoscientific data acquisition programs are vital to supporting additional resources exploration by the private sector in Australia.

Geoscience Australia is partnering with the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australian Governments to facilitate the delivery of the program. Geoscience Australia is working closely with the State and Territory Geological Surveys.

The Mining Equipment, Technology and Services sector is also being contracted to undertake some of the fieldwork, providing new jobs in regional areas.

All available data and information will be published on our website. For more information visit Exploring for the Future