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The challenge

Exploring the unexplored

The Great Australian Bight (GAB) represents one of Australia’s most prospective frontier hydrocarbon exploration regions, however it remains largely unexplored.

The limited exploration and prior scientific studies conducted in the area have indicated the presence of hydrocarbons and previously active petroleum systems.

Still, key knowledge gaps remain around the sedimentary evolution of the region, volcanic seamounts, potential hydrocarbon seeps, hydrocarbon source rocks outcropping in canyons and the benthic biota which inhabit these deep sea environments.

The Great Australian Bight

Our response

A multi-faceted deepwater research program

We are partnering with Chevron Australia on the Great Australian Bight Deepwater Marine Program, an integrated field and laboratory program which will target unexplored offshore regions of the Bight.

The program aims to assist in building an enhanced baseline picture of the seafloor geology and benthic ecology to better understand the southern continental margin.

Our objectives are to:

  • increase the knowledge of the sedimentary evolution of the Bight Basin
  • characterise the seamounts, canyons and hydrocarbon seeps on the seafloor
  • conduct an environmental and biological assessment of the benthic biota.

The program will focus on the Ceduna Basin, an offshore basin located within the GAB. The basin covers an area of 126,300 km2 and has a 16 km sedimentary sequence that remains largely untested.

The program is structured into five parallel projects. Project 1 is focused on collection of data via marine surveys and the remainder will involve analysis and interpretation of the samples collected during the surveys.

As part of the CSIRO-Chevron partnership, we will use the new Marine National Facility research vessel, Investigator, to achieve the first phase program research objectives.

The results

Answering fundamental questions

This program aims to answer fundamental geological and ecological questions about this unique region.

Outcomes will help form a better understanding of the geology to determine if active petroleum systems exist and the prospectivity of the Ceduna Basin. Extensive investigation of the benthic biota and seafloor habitats will offer an insight into the benthic ecological communities and help assess baseline environmental conditions.

This will inform exploration strategies in the region to reduce exploration uncertainty, and inform environmental management of the Great Australia Bight.

In addition, our marine survey and analysis data will be made available in the public domain for the benefit of Australia and interested stakeholders.

The multimillion dollar program is funded by Chevron Australia and led by CSIRO in collaboration with Geoscience Australia and the University of Adelaide.

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