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Optimising Risk Assessment in Coal and Energy-rich Sedimentary Basins

Over the past few years SRK has developed 4D structural/basin models that enable explorers and operators in four of the major coal-bearing sedimentary basins of eastern Australia to manage their key geological risks more effectively.

Initially releasing its structural framework study of the Sydney Basin and part of the Gunnedah Basin in January 2004, the team has continued to refine the Sydney Basin Study data in two updates, a major update in November 2005 and a minor update in September 2006.

SRK’s second study, the Bowen and Surat Basins Study, commenced in October 2005. Upon completion around September 2007, structural/basin models covering four economically significant sedimentary basins, extending for approximately 2,000 kilometres along Australia’s eastern seaboard, will have been developed.

These studies comprise a 4D structural/basin model developed at a regional scale (1:500,000 to 1:100,000) supported by an integrated database that includes public information contributed by supporting companies and organisations. The datasets in this GIS-based work platform include:

  • Published geological map data (digital ±scanned plans), mine-based geological mapping (such as faults, igneous bodies), selected bore hole data, stress measurements
  • A range of potential field data compiled from geophysical survey-based image data, including seismic, magnetics, gravity and radiometrics
  • Digital elevation models and satellite imagery (Landsat/ASTER) data

Developing a detailed geological model is considered fundamental to cost-effective, risk-based mineral or hydrocarbon exploration and mining strategies, particularly beneath cover. Sponsors of the studies agree that both these basin interpretations are adding value to their existing projects and broader exploration initiatives. The data apply not only to areas prospective for coal, coal seam gas, oil and gas, but the interpretations also allow for the selective examination, compilation and interpretation of data for mineral exploration, including gold and base metals.

Chris Woodfull:

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