THE IMPORTANCE OF NATIONAL SCALE GEOLOGICAL MAP DATA FOR LAND USE ASSESSMENT IN AUSTRALIA
The role of nationally consistent basic digital geological data has never been more important in Australia than in the current debate between the competing interests of the coal seam gas industry, groundwater use, farming, and environmental protection. Sedimentary basins contain both groundwater aquifers vital for agricultural and civil use, and prospective coal seam gas reserves. Knowing the extent of these basins and sub-basins is a key factor in decisions about land use and research funding, and developing cross-jurisdictional regulation of coal seam gas and groundwater use.
Australia was caught unprepared by the fast-moving political landscape that emerged with the coal seam gas industry. In the absence of a perceived prior need, Geoscience Australia, the national geological survey agency, did not have a current single national coverage of its fundamental onshore geological provinces (ie, basins and basement terranes). The major sedimentary basins of Australia extend across multiple state and territory borders, with geological data distributed across multiple jurisdictional agencies with inconsistent geological maps and interpretations. Geoscience Australia worked with all the state and territory geological surveys to compile a nationally consistent geological provinces dataset with agreed province definitions and boundaries, often acting as a facilitator between agencies to achieve an agreed interpretation.
The extents of geological provinces have been compiled in both surface outcrop and subsurface extent, allowing representation of the 3-dimensional arrangement of basins and basement provinces. The province descriptions are linked to the national stratigraphic lexicon, and to national-scale databases of mineral deposits, geological events, and geological samples.