South Nicholson Basin

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A gravity map showing the completed seismic lines over the South Nicholson Basin region across the Northern Territory and Queensland border.

A major data acquisition program for the Exploring for the Future program has been undertaken in the South Nicholson Basin region.

In early August 2017, Geoscience Australia acquired deep crustal seismic reflection data in the region between the southern McArthur Basin and the Mt Isa western succession, crossing the South Nicholson Basin and Murphy Province. Previously there was no seismic data and minimal well data for the region, which is approximately the size of Tasmania. The collected datawillnow dramatically increase our geological understanding of this highly prospective region.

The objective of this project was to explore exposed and undercover sedimentary basins and structures to better understand the location and scale of potential energy resources. This data will also support mineral exploration through the improved understanding of the region's geological evolution and identification of geological terrains with greater mineral potential. Initial field stack data are of excellent quality and image a variety of previously unknown features.


Map comparing the new versus old outline of the South Nicholson Basin

New data acquisition

2017 field season:

  • Five seismic lines, totalling 1100 line kilometres, with two of the seismic lines to the east linking with existing deep crustal seismic data in the Mt Isa western succession.


The South Nicholson project was undertaken collaboratively with the Northern Territory Geological Survey, the Geological Survey of Queensland and AusScope, providing in-kind and financial contributions.

Data & Publications


AGES 2017-2020:

  • Blewett, R, 2017, Exploring for the Future: a new initiative to unlock Northern Australia s minerals, energy and groundwater resources,
  • Henson, P., Carr, L. K., Fomin, T., Gerner, E. Costelloe, R., Southby, C., Anderson, J., Bailey, A., Lewis, C., Champion .D, Huston, D., the Northern Territory Geological Survey & the Queensland Geological Survey. 2018. Exploring for the Future - Discovering the South Nicholson Basin region with new seismic data. In: Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar (AGES) 2018. Record of abstracts. Northern Territory Geological Survey, Record, pp 52–54
  • Lidena Carr, Chris Southby, Paul Henson, Chris Carson, Jade Anderson, Susannah MacFarlane, Amber Jarrett, Tanya Fomin and Ross Costelloe, 2019, Exploring for the Future: South Nicholson Basin region project outcomes and sequence stratigraphy, Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar (AGES) Proceedings, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 19–20 March 2019. Northern Territory Geological Survey, Darwin. eCat - 126947
  • Amber Jarrett, Susannah MacFarlane, Tehani Palu, Chris Boreham, Lisa Hall, Dianne Edwards, Grant Cox, Tim J Munson, Jochen Brocks, Lidena Carr and Paul Henson, 2019, Source rock geochemistry and petroleum systems of the greater McArthur Basin and links to other northern Australian Proterozoic basins, Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar (AGES) Proceedings, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 19–20 March 2019. Northern Territory Geological Survey, Darwin.

ASEG 2018

  • Anderson, J. R. and Fraser, G. L. 2018. Towards a U-Pb age map for northern Australia. ASEG Extended Abstracts 2018(1), 1-3., eCat: 115962
  • Bailey, A.H.E., Wang, L., Henson, P.A., and Hall, L. (2019) Rock properties and in-situ stress state of the Egilabria prospect, Lawn Hill Platform, Queensland. The APPEA Journal 59, 383-393. DOI:, eCat: 126170


  • Boreham, C.J., Edwards, D.S., Poreda, R.J., Darrah, T.H., Zhu, R., Grosjean, E., Main, P., Waltenberg, K., Henson, P.A., 2018. Helium in the Australian liquefied natural gas economy. The APPEA Journal 58, 209-237.
  • Bailey A.H.E. and Henson P.A. (2019) Variation of vertical stress in the onshore Canning Basin, Western Australia. The APPEA Journal 59, 264-382 DOI:, eCat: 126138

AEGC 2019

  • Anderson, J. R., Carson, C. J., Lewis, C. L., Kositcin, N., Cross, A., Carr, L. K., Henson, P. (2019). Exploring for the Future: new U–Pb geochronology for the South Nicholson region and implications for stratigraphic correlations. ASEG Extended Abstracts, 2019(1): 1-5., eCat: 126618
  • Southby, C., Carr, L. K., Henson, P., Haines, P., Zhan, A., Anderson, J., MacFarlane, S., Formin, T., Costelloe, R. (2019). Exploring for the future: Kidson Sub-basin seismic interpretation. ASEG Extended Abstracts, 2019(1): 1-3., eCat: 126282

Related information

Vibroseis trucksVibroseis trucks alongside the Barkly Highway, Queensland, working on the South Nicholson Basin seismic line