Man with map at mine

New geoscience in the Barkly and Gulf regions

Unlocking the resource potential of the Barkly and Gulf regions through collaborative geoscience.

The Northern Territory Geological Survey (NTGS) is undertaking a range of collaborative geoscience programs designed to investigate the minerals and energy potential beneath the soils of the Barkly Tableland and into the Gulf region. This builds on major geoscience programs in the greater McArthur Basin that were undertaken under the CORE initiative.

The large volume of new geoscience data generated in the Barkly Tableland region has led to a substantial increase in industry activity in greenfields areas. Since late 2018, more than 17,000km2 of new mineral exploration licence applications have been made by industry over previous vacant ground in the Barkly Tableland east of Tennant Creek, targeting copper and gold. This area has not previously been explored for these minerals.

The prospective rocks are buried more than 100m below the surface and there was previously insufficient geological information to attract explorers into the area. The area also attracted six applications from four companies for co-funding in the 2020 round of the Geophysics and Drilling Collaborations program.

Exploring for the Future

A major component of new geoscience information for the area is the co-investment in extensive new data acquisition with Geoscience Australia under the Commonwealth’s Exploring for the Future program designed to investigate the minerals and energy potential beneath the soils of the Barkly Tableland. New data acquisition includes gravity, magnetotelluric, reflection and passive seismic, geochemistry and hydrogeochemistry. Recently released data and information from the Exploring for the Future program can be found on the Geoscience Australia website.

A stratigraphic drilling program in the Barkly and Gulf regions through the Program 3 National Drilling Initiative under the MinEx CRC has been designed to test new concepts from data derived from the Exploring for the Future program. Drilling has been completed. Results will released throughout 2021.

South Nicholson-Lawn Hill geoscience mapping

New regional-scale geological mapping by NTGS of outcropping geology in the Lawn Hill Platform and South Nicholson Basin, focusing on the Mount Drummond 1:250 000 sheet area integrating mapping with new geochronology and new seismic data acquired from EFTF.

Collaborative work between NTGS and GA has substantially upgraded the understanding the undercover distribution, basin geometry and resource potential of the subsurface South Nicholson Basin and Lawn Hill Platform, and their relationships to the Beetaloo Sub-basin and McArthur Basin.

Collaborative work undertaken included:

Recent NTGS data and publications from the Barkly Tableland can be found on the GEMIS website.

Reinvigorating exploration in the Tennant Creek region

A suite of new programs was designed by NTGS to reinvigorate exploration closer to Tennant Creek by increasing data accessibility and value-adding to historic exploration data.

These programs include:

  • compilation of digital mineral deposit atlases and 3D visualisation of mineral fields in the Tennant Creek area, in collaboration with the University of Queensland. The products for the Rover field southwest of Tennant Creek and the products for the Tennant Creek mineral field are now complete.
  • improving understanding of the geological framework and gold and base metal potential of the concealed Rover field through acquiring new data from drill core, in collaboration with GA.
  • developing a physical and virtual repository of representative drill core from the Tennant Creek and Rover fields utilising the HyLoggerTM to provide spectral information on key drill core
  • compilation of open file industry gravity and aeromagnetic geophysical data over the Tennant Creek and Rover fields, including seamless merged high‑resolution grids
  • completion of digital capture of all historic drilling and geochemistry data from the Tennant Creek 1:250,000 geological mapsheet.

Recent NTGS data and publications from the Tennant Region can be found on the GEMIS website.