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The central deserts of Australia (Great Victoria Desert, Gibson Desert, and Great Sandy Desert) represent a vast tract of Australia’s arid interior spanning Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Identification of energy and minerals resource potential and groundwater resources is limited by the extensive cover of sand dunes that obscure most of the underlying geology.

Officer-Musgrave will investigate the energy and minerals potential of the Officer Basin. Groundwater investigations will focus on the Musgrave Province and overlying Officer Basin to identify potential palaeovalley groundwater resources, vital to future development, and will support geological framework data acquisition and geochemistry for other projects. The energy component focuses on the re-analysis of existing datasets and acquisition of key new precompetitive data in the Officer Basin to improve understanding of regional energy and mineral potential, and will stimulate industry exploration investment in the medium-term, ultimately leading to new discoveries and wealth creation.

In alignment with the Exploring for the Future vision, this project will develop an integrated geoscientific understanding of the resource potential of this frontier region. Project activities and outputs will engage and support regional communities, provide an evidence-base for future resource use, encourage investment and job creation and lead to improved economic, social and cultural outcomes. This project will also develop, refine and implement novel scientific workflows and methods that can be applied in other frontier regions across Australia.

Proposed key activities will include geophysical data acquisition (active and passive seismic, airborne electromagnetics and magnetotellurics); stratigraphic drilling; hydrogeochemical, geochronological and geochemical sampling and analysis; and basin and palaeovalley systems understanding and resource potential assessments.