Resetting Our Understanding of the Great Artesian Basin

An exciting project is underway at UQ aimed at delivering an evidence-based body of knowledge for the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) to inform how to best manage this finite water resource into the future.

This will facilitate better decision making when formulating regulatory controls, mitigating risks and determining industry best practice. It will also help landholders and other groundwater users in the community have a better understanding about the system.

The Issue: Outdated Information Used to Make Decisions 

This project aims to limit reliance on outdated models and concepts of the GAB, which are sometimes evident in discussions and decisions about the GAB.

Outdated models of the hydrogeological nature and connectivity of the GAB can give rise to incomplete and in some cases over-simplistic and/or incorrect understanding of the basin.

The Solution: Making Latest Knowledge Publically Available

Much new knowledge has been gained over the last 10 years, in part due to resource projects such as coal seam gas supported related research on GAB’s hydrogeology and socio-hydrogeological connections.

This knowledge is not all published and some is not peer reviewed. This makes it difficult for researchers, decision makers and general public to find the latest information and assess whether it is scientifically robust.

This project brings together the latest peer-reviewed science and research about the hydrogeological nature and connectivity of the GAB and provides new ways of conceptualising those parts of the GAB still lacking significant data.

It changes our understanding of key processes in the basin, which may have impacts on the way we manage the resource.

It will put important new understandings about the workings of the GAB into the public domain.

Key Points

New body of knowledge bringing together the latest science and research on the GAB. 

Provides a robust scientific evidence base for planning and management decisions.

Changes our understanding of the basin, which will impact on the way we manage the resource.

Funding

This project is jointly funded by NERA (National Energy Resources Australia) and the UQ Centre for Coal Seam Gas (with its industry members Arrow Energy, APLNG and Santos).
 

The Product: A Body-of-Knowledge

The resource collates advances in science and management relating to the GAB. The findings will be published in the Hydrogeology Journal, the key industry scientific journal of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), as a Special Issue in January 2020 and in a Topical Collection later in 2020.

It revisits and updates the underpinning concepts with the most recent information now available. It includes:

  • Context and factors affecting GAB’s hydrogeology.
  • Groundwater use & management.
  • Groundwater flow processes (conceptualisation and modelling).
  • Hydrochemistry and use of tracers.
  • Springs and Ecosystems.

The project will deliver general information on the GAB and update information about hydrological processes and groundwater resource management.

A new website is being created to house a series of factsheets and digital resources which are being been developed to help inform the broader public about the resource.

Collaboration: Stronger Together

The University of Queensland Centre for Coal Seam Gas and Sustainable Minerals Institute Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry were ideally placed to lead this project due to the knowledge gained during their research programs, and their wide knowledge of national research activity related to the GAB. Industry, government and research institutions are collaborating to bring together experts in the field to collate and disseminate tangible and scientifically rigorous advances in science and technology.

 

Project members

Dr Carlos Miraldo Ordens

Dr Carlos Miraldo Ordens

Research Fellow
CWiMI
Professor Neil McIntyre

Professor Neil McIntyre

Principal Research Fellow, Group Leader - Regional Water & Land Resources
CWiMI