Ausgeo News  December 2005  Issue No. 80

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Big New Oil initiative shows results

Australian Frontier Basins Workshop

Australia's offshore area.

The Australian Frontier Basins Workshop held at Geoscience Australia on 13 and 14 October 2005 was attended by more than 30 delegates from 17 companies and other institutions. They represented all the major Australian and several International petroleum exploration companies as well as a number of the smaller Australian companies. The Albany Port Authority and the Western Australia Geological Survey were also represented.

The workshop presented results and discussed petroleum exploration opportunities resulting from the Australian Government's Big New Oil initiative at the half-way point. The 2003-04 federal Budget included $25 million to generate new geoscience data in offshore frontier areas and to preserve Australia's offshore seismic data collection. The initiative is designed to assist the petroleum exploration industry in the search for a new oil province by developing new exploration opportunities and delivering them to the market via the annual offshore Acreage Release. Geoscience Australia is undertaking a program of seismic acquisition, geological sampling and oil seep detection studies in a number of Australia's frontier basins.

Bremer Basin acreage release areas.

Data acquired through the initiative was presented to attendees of the workshop, including interpretation of the new seismic data acquired from the Southwest margin, and results from hydrocarbon seep studies in the Arafura Sea. A highlight was the presentation of results from the Bremer Sub-basin study. The Bremer is the first Australian frontier Sub-basin offered for acreage release as a result of the Big New Oil program. It offers an investment opportunity developed and documented with new data sets and is a designated frontier area for taxation purposes. Bidding closes on the Bremer Sub-basin release areas on the 20th April 2006.

The second day of the workshop was dedicated to other projects within the Big Oil Program, including studies in the Arafura Basin, Offshore Canning Basin and Northern Lord Howe Rise, as well as results obtained from hydrocarbon seeps studies in Northern Australia.

This workshop provided an excellent opportunity for Geoscience Australia to present the results of our work, discuss our forward program with industry and receive their input and feedback.

New results from Bremer Sub-basin

Alexey Goncharov, Geoscience Australia scientist with conference delegates.

Results from a geological sampling survey of the Bremer Sub-basin in February-March 2004 have been documented in Geoscience Australia Record 2005/05, which is now available. This record provides results of the biostratigraphic analysis of 95 rock samples, geochemical analysis of 59 rock samples, and petrographic analyses of selected rocks samples. It also includes a geographic information system (GIS) that provides key spatial data sets, such as the new 250 metre bathymetry grid, and dredge sample locations with analytical results included in the attribute tables.

A CD-ROM containing workshop presentations on the final results of the Bremer Sub-basin study is now available from Barry Bradshaw at Geoscience Australia (

For more information phone Jenny Maher on +61 2 6249 9896 (email To order the Bremer Sub-basin Record phone Freecall 1800 800 173 (in Australia) or +61 2 6249 9966 (email

Australia celebrates Earth Science Week 2005

Winners of seismometer competition.

This year's theme was "Geoscientists Explore our Earth" which aimed to promote and explain the role of geoscientists and how their work contributes to the wellbeing of society. Earth Science Week has been celebrated worldwide since 1998 with Geoscience Australia coordinating the Australian celebrations since October 1999. It is now celebrated in every state and territory in Australia.

Australia's National Geographic Channel kicked off the week in dramatic fashion with an epic collection of documentaries showcasing Savage Earth Week. The documentaries took a close look at the effectiveness of modern science in averting natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes and tsunamis.

In Sydney, the IMAX theatre thrilled packed audiences with it's new 3D shows Wild Safari and Walking on the Moon, and had to extend its program schedule to include an extra night.

Figure 1. Parliamentary Secretary Warren Entsch (left), ACT Senator Gary Humphries and Geoscience Australia CEO Dr. Neil Williams (back right), with winners from Burgmann Anglican School, Narrabundah College and Telopea High School. (Larger image [JPG 675.0Kb])

In the Northern Territory the Geological Survey announced a new scholarship aimed at encouraging young Territorians to undertake university study in the earth sciences.

Winner of individual category, Clementine Pickwick.

In Canberra, the National Museum of Australia entertained 11 540 visitors with 39 performances of the show "Gondwana" which featured a journey through time to explore the origins and creation of Australia's unique prehistoric landscape, populated by dinosaurs, giant beasts and indigenous flora. Australia's amazing prehistory was brought to life using large-scale inflatable plants, spectacular full body puppets, huge projections and a moody, atmospheric musical score.

To mark Earth Science Week Geoscience Australia ran a competition inviting students from local high schools to design and build a simple working model seismometer.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, The Hon Warren Entsch MP, joined ACT Senator Gary Humphries in presenting prizes to the winners.

Entries were judged by the Project Leader of Geoscience Australia's monitoring network, Bill Greenwood, who was impressed by the standard of entries which he said "demonstrated a good understanding of how earthquakes happened".

Figure 2. Winner of the individual category awards. (Larger image [JPG 588.3Kb])

Students from Burgmann Anglican School with their winning seismometer.

The winning entry in the Individual category used a tube filled with liquid that acted as a spirit level, ensuring that the seismometer was on a level surface. Small ball bearings were placed evenly on the periphery of the platform so they fell off when subjected to shaking- the more balls that fell, the more intense the earthquake. A clock on the seismometer stopped ticking when the ball bearings shifted, indicating the time of an earthquake.

The winning Group entry used wood, wire, nails, machine roll paper, a coffee tin (for the paper to roll on to) and a weight to increase sensitivity of the seismometers arm to vibrations. When shaken the horizontal arm holding the pen swayed from side to side generating a seismograph.

Earth Science Week was conceived by the American Geological Institute (AGI) and commenced in 1998. The AGI marked the Week this year with the launch of a free on-line magazine, GeoSpectrum, which includes a summary of America's Earth Science Week activities.

Figure 3. Winners of the group category awards. (Larger image [JPG 427.7Kb])

For more information visit

Geodetic and oceanographic technology for a dynamic planet

The Hon Warren Entsch MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources opened the Dynamic Planet conference in Cairns on 22 August. In his opening speech, Mr. Entsch outlined the development of the Australian Tsunami Warning System and the need for community preparedness for natural disasters. He was keen to emphasise that this could only be achieved through the collaboration of the global scientific community.

The conference ran for five days and attracted an impressive scientific gathering. Delegates from Geoscience Australia, a major sponsor of the conference, were in attendance along with members from the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), International Association of the Physical Sciences of the Ocean (IAPSO), and the International Association of Biological Oceanographers (IABO).

  Dynamic Planet presented a unique opportunity for scientists to come together to present their findings and discuss cross-disciplinary research into the solid earth and oceans. A scientific program called "Monitoring and Understanding a Dynamic Planet with Geodetic and Oceanographic Tools", again emphasised the need for global collaboration.

Significantly, the conference attracted international interest and around 796 delegates attended from 62 countries. Topics were presented on 27 distinct themes and a total of 812 papers, 495 posters and 317 oral presentations were given. The IAG sessions resulted in 215 posters and 205 oral presentations.

A major highlight of the conference was the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS), one of the most significant international initiatives in earth monitoring science. It was developed under the auspices of the IAG and its vision statement is "to achieve a better understanding of geodynamic and global change processes as a basis of Earth Science research" within the central theme of "Global deformation and mass exchange processes in the Earth system". The GGOS structure is designed to achieve an all encompassing and fully integrated system of instrumentation, observations, reference frames, conventions, constants, processing methodologies, parameters, products and applications.

For more information phone Ramesh Govind +61 2 6249 9033 (email

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