Application of Airborne EM to Bowen Basin Coal Projects
Kate E. Godber, James Reid and Guy LeBlanc Smith
ASEG Extended Abstracts
2012(1) 1 - 4
Published: 01 April 2012
In 2011, several Bowen Basin coal exploration projects in central Queensland were surveyed with the SkyTEM airborne electromagnetic system. The aim of these surveys was to trial the effectiveness of the method in for coal applications, with specific focus on mapping the key aspects of the weathering, overburden and hydrology that are most important for effective development of a coal project. The first survey, which was over an area near Moranbah with 150m of Tertiary overburden with extensive basalt flows, mapped crucial hydrological and geological features important to efficient further development of the project: These included a) a convoluted network of basalt-filled palaeochannels, some of which extend through and into the coal measures b) location, extent and thickness of major saline aquifers, c) depth to base of Tertiary. Subsequent surveys over different parts of the Bowen basin, showed that SkyTEM was a very effective tool for mapping the thickness of weathering, a parameter very important for drilling out coal resources. The results are surprising in that they not only provide a detailed map of depth of weathering (including volumes of lateritic sediments requiring excavation), but also map more subtle geological features such as synclines (previously only loosely inferred from surface mapping), major faults, previously unknown dykes, dip and strike of the main stratigraphic units, fresh water aquifers and even possibly also various coal seams (generally because they are saline aquifers). These surveys represent, at least to the authors? knowledge, the first example of modern helicopter-borne transient EM in the Australian coal fields. The results from this project and subsequent projects are surprising in that they have had unexpected applications above and beyond those which were originally forecast. Thus, with informed and thorough use, airborne EM promises to deliver valuable geological and geotechnical information to aid in the further development of Australia?s coal resources.
Full text doi:10.1071/ASEG2012ab205
© ASEG 2012