Canning Basin

Last updated:7 June 2023

Basin Details and Geological Overview

The underexplored, pericratonic Early Ordovician to Early Cretaceous Canning Basin of Western Australia occupies about 506 000km2, of which 430 000km2 are onshore. It has a maximum sediment thickness of over 15 000m concentrated in two NW trending depocentres. The northernmost of these is the Fitzroy Trough-Gregory Sub-basin complex, while the southernmost is the Willara Sub-basin-Kidson Sub-basin complex.

Deposition in the basin commenced during an Early Ordovician phase of extension and rapid subsidence. Rifting was followed by a prolonged sag stage characterised by widespread evaporitic and playa conditions in the Late Ordovician and Silurian. The second basin phase was initiated by minor folding, regional uplift and erosion in the earliest Devonian and embraces laterally extensive, aeolian and terrestrial deposits. The third phase incorporates major extension, rifting and rapid subsidence in the mid-Devonian. The sag stage following this extension was interrupted by at least two extensional tectonic pulses marked by influxes of conglomerates along the northern margins of the basin. The fourth basin phase was initiated by mid-Carboniferous compression and inversion of Devonian normal faults. This phase is marked by syntectonic fluvial deposits. The fifth phase is marked by renewed extension and rapid subsidence, coinciding with the onset of glacial conditions in the Early Permian and incorporates a sag stage with widespread transgression following the glaciation. The final tectonic phase was triggered by regional dextral wrench movements in the Late Triassic - Early Jurassic when up to 3km of uplift and erosion occurred, accompanied by extensive molasse deposition. This was followed by deposition of fluvio-deltaic and marine sediments.

Only 250 wells have been drilled and 78 000 line-km of 2D seismic shot in the basin. Hydrocarbon production is currently from Permo-Carboniferous sandstones (Lloyd, Sundown, etc) and Devonian carbonates (Blina) with many shows from Ordovician to Permian rocks. Proven plays include draped bioherms, anticlinal closures and tilted fault blocks. Untested plays include unconformities, fault rollovers, diapirs and stratigraphic traps.

Key References

Horstman, E.L., & Purcell, P.G. 1988 The offshore Canning Basin - a review. In Purcell, P.G. & R.., (Editors). The North West Shelf, Australia: Proceedings of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia Symposium, Perth, 1988, 253-257.
Falvey, D.A., Symonds, P.A., Colwell, J.B., Willcox, J.B., Marshall, J.F., Williamson, P.E., & Stagg, H.M.J. 1990 Australia's deepwater frontier petroleum basins and play types. The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APEA) Journal, 30(1), 238-262.
Jones, P.J., & Young, G.C. 1993 Summary of Phanerozoic biostratigraphy and palaeontology of the Canning Basin (Lennard Shelf). BMR Record 1993/004.
Passmore, V.L. 1991 Hydrocarbon prospectivity of the offshore Canning Basin. Canberra, Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, Australia, Record 1991/11.
Cadman, S.J., Pain, L., Vuckovic, V., & le Poidevin, S.R. 1993 Canning Basin, Western Australia. Canberra, Bureau of Resource Sciences, Australian Petroleum Accumulations Report 9.
Towner, R., & Gibson, D.L. 1983 Geology of the onshore Canning Basin, Western Australia. Bureau of Mineral Resources, Australia, Bulletin 215.
Yeates, A.N., Gibson, D.L., Towner, R., & Crowe, R.W.A. 1984 Regional Geology of the Onshore Canning Basin, W.A. In Purcell, P.G. (Editor). The Canning Basin, WA. Geological Society of Australia/Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia Symposium, Perth, 1984, Proceedings, 23-55.
Hocking, R.M., & Preston, W.A. 1998 Western Australia: Phanerozoic geology and mineral resources. AGSO Journal of Australian Geology and Geophysics, 17(3), 245-260.