Laura and Lakefield Basins

Location Map

Laura and Lakefield Basins in relation to Australia

Map showing the location of Laura and Lakefield Basins in relation
to Australia
© Geoscience Australia

Basin Details and Geological Overview

The Laura Basin is located in northeast Queensland, occupying 18 000km2 onshore and 16 000km2 offshore, under water depths of less than 200 metres. The basin comprises approximately 2 000 metres of Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous sediments and overlies up to 10 000 metres of Permian sediments of the Lakefield Basin. The Laura Basin is bound to the west by the Coen Inlier; to the south by the Hodgkinson Province and Yambo Inlier and to the north and east offshore by the Queensland Basin and undefined continental shelf basement. The Lakefield Basin is a Permian intracratonic rift basin with a current area of some 10 000km2 onshore and 3 000km2 offshore, underlying the central Laura Basin. The Lakefield Basin may have covered a far larger area in the past and included Triassic sediments, before some 2km of section was removed by Middle to Late Triassic uplift and erosion. Only the uppermost part of the Lakefield Basin has been intersected, by four onshore petroleum exploration wells that encountered a fluvio-deltaic sequence.

The Laura Basin is a Jurassic-Cretaceous intra-cratonic sag basin, initiated by renewed movement along the Palmerville Fault. Initial fluvial sedimentation of the Dalrymple Sandstone was deposited over a rugged erosional surface, but upper parts of that formation were deposited in delta-plain to marginal marine environments. The overlying, conformable Gilbert River Formation was then deposited during the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous in fluvial to marginal marine environments. Rapid subsidence during the Aptian led to the deposition of the shallow marine, conformable Rolling Downs Group. Laura Basin sedimentation was terminated by Late Cretaceous uplift and erosion. The Laura Basin is overlain onshore by thin Cainozoic fluvial sediments of the Kalpowar Basin.

No petroleum discoveries have been made in the Lakefield or Laura Basins, although gas shows have been encountered in each basin. The offshore Laura-Lakefield Basins lie within the Great Barrier Marine Park, in which petroleum exploration activity is prohibited. The Lakefield National Park overlies a large part of the onshore basins.

Laura Basin Summary Table

LAURA BASIN
State(s) Queensland
Area (km2) Offshore 16 000
  Onshore 18 000
Maximum thickness (m) 2 000
Age Range Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous.
Basin Overlies Permian Lakefield Basin; Palaeozoic metasediments of Hodgkinson Basin; Proterozoic basement.
  Underlies Onshore Cainozoic Kalpowar Basin; offshore shelf carbonates.
  Subdivisions -
  Other The Laura Basin is contiguous with the Carpentaria Basin in the southwest, across the Kimba Arch.
Indicators Knowledge Very sparse regional geophysical data offshore; regional geophysical and some well data onshore.
  Basin type Intracratonic half graben over older basin and graben.
  System(s) Murta
  Water Depth (m) 0 - < 200
Exploration Status Frontier
  Wells 4 petroleum exploration and 1 stratigraphic onshore
  Seismic line-km Approximately 500 onshore, very sparse regional data offshore.
  Discoveries Nil
  Shows Oil extracted from core, GSQ Ebagoola-1; gas recovered in drill stem test, Marina-1.
  HC evidence Oil staining and fluorescence was noted in the other 3 wells in the basin.
Geology Source(s) Underlying Lakefield Basin is most likely source; Middle Jurassic shales possible source offshore.
  Reservoirs Several Jurassic and Early Cretaceous sandstones.
  Seals Intraformational shales.
  Trap types Drape anticlines over pre-existing highs.
  Palaeogeographic summary Middle to Late Jurassic: fluvio-deltaic; latest Jurassic to earliest Cretaceous: lagoonal to marginal marine; Early Cretaceous: inner to middle shelf.
Timing Oil generation (?) Triassic to Jurassic from the Lakefield Basin;
(?) Neogene from the deepest parts of the Laura Basin if generation has occurred.
  Gas generation (?) Triassic to Cainozoic from the Lakefield Basin;
(?) Neogene from the deepest parts of the Laura Basin if generation has occurred.
  Trap formation Middle to Late Jurassic.
  Other key times Most oil generation from the Lakefield Basin may have predated Laura Basin trap formation;
Neogene flushing of potential Laura Basin reservoir sands by groundwater.
Other important information 1) The offshore part of the Laura Basin lies within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, in which petroleum exploration activity is prohibited.
2) A large part of the onshore basin lies under the Lakefield National Park.
Geoscience Australia products available Bain and Draper, 1997.

Lakefield Basin Summary Table

LAKEFIELD BASIN
State(s) Queensland
Area (km2) Offshore 3 000
  Onshore 10 000
Maximum thickness (m) 10 000
Age Range Permian to Triassic
Basin Overlies Proterozoic (Yambo Subprovince).
  Underlies Laura Basin.
  Subdivisions -
  Other Sedimentary remnants of Permo-Triassic age occur within a 200 km radius of the Lakefield Basin, so it is likely that the basin was originally much larger.
Indicators Knowledge Very sparse regional geophysical data offshore; regional geophysical and some well data onshore.
  Basin type Intracratonic extensional (?) rift, but poorly known.
  System(s) Gondwanan.
  Water Depth (m) 0 - < 50.
Exploration Status Frontier
  Wells 4 petroleum exploration and 1 stratigraphic onshore
  Seismic line-km Approximately 500 onshore, very sparse regional data offshore.
  Discoveries Nil
  Shows Gas shows in all wells.
  HC evidence Oil and gas shows in the overlying Laura Basin are probably sourced from the Lakefield Basin.
Geology Source(s) Permian (? to Early Triassic) shales and coals.
  Reservoirs Permian sandstones, but many are highly indurated.
  Seals Intraformational shales.
  Trap types Fault traps or stratigraphic traps are most likely, as there is little folding in the Lakefield Basin; best traps may be in the overlying Laura Basin.
  Palaeogeographic summary Insufficient data for an assessment.
Timing Oil generation (?) Triassic to Jurassic.
  Gas generation (?) Triassic to Cainozoic.
  Trap formation Lakefield Basin: Permian for stratigraphic traps, unknown for fault traps; Laura Basin: Middle to Late Jurassic drapes over Lakefield highs.
  Other key times About 2 km of probable Triassic section was eroded before the Middle Jurassic.
Other important information 1) The offshore part of the Lakefield Basin lies within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, in which petroleum exploration activity is prohibited.
2) A large part of the onshore basin lies under the Lakefield National Park.
Geoscience Australia products available Bain and Draper, 1997.

Key References

Author(s) Year Title
APG Consultants 1989 GSQ Ebagoola No. 1. Palynological report No. 517/9. Report for Queensland Department of Mines. Unpublished report held by Queensland Department of Mines as CR 20533
Bain, J.H.C., and Draper, J.J. 1997 North Queensland Geology. Australian Geological Survey Organisation, Bulletin, 240 and Queensland Department of Mines and Energy, Queensland Geology 9
Day, R.W. 1976 Laura Basin. Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. 7, Economic geology of Australia and Papua New Guinea; 3 Petroleum, pp. 443-445.
Day, R.W., Whitaker, W.G., Murray, C.G., Wilson, I.H., and Grimes, K.G. 1983 Queensland Geology. A companion volume to the 1:2,500,000 scale geological map (1975). Geological survey of Queensland, Publication 383.
De Keyser, F., and Lucas, K.G. 1968 Geology of the Hodgkinson and Laura Basins, north Queensland. Bureau of Mineral Resources, Australia, Bulletin 84
Denaro, T.J., and Shield, C.J. 1993 Coal and petroleum exploration, Cape York Peninsula. Bureau of Mineral Resources, Record 1993/15
Harrington. H.J., Brakel, A.T., Hunt, J.W., Wells, A.T., Middleton, M.F., O'Brien, P.E., Hamilton, D.S., Beckett, J., Weber, C.R., Radke, S., Totterdell, J.M., Swaine, D.J., and Schmidt, P.W. 1989 Permian coals of eastern Australia. Bureau of Mineral Resources, Australia, Bulletin 231
Hawkins, P.J., and Williams, L.J. 1990 Review of the geology and economic potential of the Laura Basin. Brisbane, Geological Survey of Queensland, Record 1990/2
Henry, R.L., and Benade, D.R. 1982 Annual report of exploration activities in Authority to Prospect 226C, north Queensland. 1st January, 1981-31st December, 1981. Report No. 363. Utah Development Company, Exploration Department. Unpublished report held by Queensland Department of Mines (confidential).
Marshallsea, S.J., Green, P.F., and Webb, J. 2000 Thermal history of the Hodgkinson Province and Laura Basin, Queensland: multiple cooling episodes identified from apatite fission track analysis and vitrinite reflectance data. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 47, pp. 779-797.
Passmore, V.L. 1980 Laura Basin. Stratigraphic correlation between sedimentary basins of the ESCAP region, vol VII, ESCAP atlas of stratigraphy II. Mineral resources development series. 46, pp. 23-27.
Pinchin, J. 1974 A reinterpretation of seismic data in the Laura Basin, Queensland. Journal of the Geological Society of Australia. 21, Part 4; 4, pp. 437-445.