Maryborough Basin

Location Map

Maryborough Basin in relation to Australia

Map showing the location of Maryborough Basin in relation to Australia
© Geoscience Australia

Basin Details and Geological Overview

The Maryborough Basin is located in southeast Queensland, occupying 9 100km2 onshore and 15 500km2 offshore. The Maryborough Basin consists of up to 9 500 metres of Late Triassic to Cainozoic sediments, under water depths up to 1 000 metres. Five petroleum onshore exploration wells were drilled in the basin and all were dry except for gas shows in Gregory River 1. The basin overlies Permo-Triassic metasediments and granites and forms one of the thickest Mesozoic sedimentary sections in eastern Australia. During the Permian and Mesozoic, eastern Australia was in a back-arc tectonic setting dominated by a strike slip regime. Basins developed as the oblique extension stepped eastward. The Maryborough Basin development was in two main stages: transtensional rifting followed by thermal subsidence.

The Maryborough Basin consists of two main successions:

  1. Latest Triassic to mid Jurassic continental sediments of the Duckinwilla Group and
  2. the Latest Jurassic to Neocomian Grahams Creek Formation and two conformable Early Cretaceous units, the Maryborough Formation and Burrum Coal Measures.

Sedimentation in the basin commenced with the deposition of thick fluvial quartzose sandstone (Myrtle Creek Sandstone). This was followed by the deposition of a coal measure sequence, which probably contains some marine section (Tiaro Coal Measures). A period of substantial volcanic activity terminated this sedimentation in the Early Cretaceous (Grahams Creek Formation). Sedimentation recommenced in the Aptian with a fluviatile sequence, which later gave way to marine conditions (Maryborough Formation). Deposition terminated with a fluviatile-lacustrine sequence (Burrum Coal Measures). Major folding and faulting occurred in the Cretaceous-Palaeogene, during which significant erosion occurred. A veneer of fluvial sediments and some basalts were deposited in the Eocene to Neogene. Potential source rocks have been identified in the basin’s Jurassic and Cretaceous sequences. Possible reservoirs include: Myrtle Creek Sandstone, the lower sandstone member of the Maryborough Formation and sands within the Burrum Coal Measures and the Tiaro Coal Measures.

Basin Summary table

State(s) Queensland
Area (km2) Offshore 15 500
  Onshore 9 100
Maximum thickness (m) 9 500
Age Range Late Triassic to Cainozoic
Basin Overlies Permo-Triassic metasediments and granites.
  Underlies Cainozoic fluvial, coastal & shelf cover.
  Subdivisions -
  Other Grades into the Nambour Basin to the south.
Indicators Knowledge Outcrop, regional geophysical some well data onshore; regional geophysical data only offshore.
  Basin type Probable back-arc basin.
  System(s) Murta
  Water Depth (m) 0 - 1 000 (mostly < 200)
Exploration Status Frontier
  Wells Four petroleum exploration onshore, 0 offshore.
  Seismic line-km Not determined, but sparse 2D only.
  Discoveries Nil
  Shows Gas show in Gregory River-1.
  HC evidence -
Geology Source(s) Early to Middle Jurassic continental shales and coals; Early Cretaceous marine shales and fluvio-deltaic to lacustrine shales and coals.
  Reservoirs Sands within the Early Cretaceous Maryborough Fm, in particular the Gregory Sandstone Member.
  Seals Intraformational Maryborough Fm shales.
  Trap types Structural traps predominate.
  Palaeogeographic summary Late Triassic: fluvial; Early to Middle Jurassic: fluvio-lacustrine; Late Jurassic: mainly continental volcanics; Early Cretaceous: estuarine and coastal to marine, then coaly fluvio-deltaic and lacustrine; Late Cretaceous hiatus; Palaeogene: fluvial.
Timing Oil generation (?) Late Jurassic - Early Cretaceous.
  Gas generation Late Cretaceous to Neogene.
  Trap formation Late Cretaceous.
  Other key times Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous uplift; further Late Cretaceous uplift and major erosion (2 – 3 km of section removed onshore).
Other important information 1) The offshore Maryborough Basin underlies whale migration paths for several months of the year.
2) Fraser Island is a National Park.
Geoscience Australia products available Hill, 1994. Record 1994 /1.


Stratigraphy of Maryborough Basin

Stratigraphy of Maryborough Basin.
© Geoscience Australia

Regional Cross-sections

Maryborough Basin Regional Cross Section

Maryborough Basin Regional Cross Section
© Geoscience Australia

Key References

Author(s) Year Title
Cranfield, L. C. 1982 Stratigraphic Drilling in the southern Maryborough Basin, 1978-1980, Queensland Government Mining Journal, 83, 963, pp. 15-29.
Cranfield, L.C. 1993 Stratigraphic units of the Maryborough Basin, southeast Queensland. Queensland Geology, 5, pp. 18-43
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: 2500,000 scale geological map, 1975. Geological Survey of Queensland, Publication 383.
Ellis, P.L. 1966 The Maryborough Basin. APPEA, 30-36.
Ellis, P.L. 1968 Geology of the Maryborough 1:250,000 sheet region. Queensland Department of Mines, Geological Survey of Queensland, Report 26
Ellis, P.L and Whitaker, W.G. 1976 Geology of the Bundaberg 1:250,000 sheet area. Queensland Department of Mines, Geological Survey of Queensland, Report 90
Gray, A. R. G. 1990 A summary of the petroleum potential of the offshore Queensland continental margin. Queensland Government Mining Journal, v.91, pp. 489-494
Harrington, H.J. and Korsch, R.J. 1985 Late Permian to Cainozoic tectonics of the New England Orogen. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 32, pp. 181-203
Hill, P.J. 1994 Geology and geophysics of the offshore Maryborough, Capricorn and northern Tasman Basins: results of AGSO Survey 91. Canberra, Australian Geological Survey Organisation, Record 1994/1.
Lipski, P. 2000 Petroleum geology of the onshore Maryborough Basin. Extended Abstracts, Second Sprigg Symposium: Frontier Basins, Frontier Ideas. Geological Society of Australia Abstracts, 60, 50-52
Magellan Petroleum Australia Limited 1999 ATP 613P Maryborough Basin Queensland, Australia. 1998 Maryborough Basin seismic survey operations report. Unpublished report held by the Queensland Department of Mines as CR 31112A
Petroleum Resources Assessment and Development Sub-program 1990 Petroleum Resources of Queensland (Review to June 30, 1989). Queensland Resource Industries Review Series. Department of Resource Industries, Queensland
Ridley, W.F. 1960 Geological studies in the Maryborough Basin, south-east Queensland. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland, 72, pp. 83-99
Roe, L. 1994 Maryborough Basin Exploration. Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA)(Queensland Branch), 59-66
Siller, C.W. 1961 The geology and petroleum prospects of the Maryborough Basin, Queensland. APPEA Journal, 1, pp. 30-36