Sydney University is fronting an international research group using big data sets and high performance computers to better identify exploration targets in basins in remote Australia.
The university’s School of Geosciences today said it will receive $5.4 million over the next five years from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and industry to undertake a new approach to analysing sedimentary basins.
The group, called the Basin GENESIS Hub, will model the interaction between processes on the earth’s surface and deep below.
The research is expected to create a new ‘exploration geodynamics toolbox’ for exploration, mining, and energy companies to improve estimates of what resources might be found in individual basins, Sydney University said today.
Sedimentary basins form when sediments eroded from highly elevated regions are transported through river systems and deposited into lowland regions and continental margins. Groundwater and energy resources are found in these basins. The space between grains of sand in them can also be used to store carbon dioxide.
Associate professor Patrice Rey, a researcher at the School of Geosciences, said the group will incorporate data from multiple sources to create five dimensional models, combining three dimensional space with extra dimensions of time and estimates of uncertainty.
The modelling will span scales of time from entire basins hundreds of kilometres wide to individual sediment grains across the north-west shelf of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Atlantic Ocean continental margins.
The researchers will use computer simulations to understand the formation of sedimentary basins and the changes they have undergone recently and over hundreds of millions of years, Rey said.
Professor Dietmar Muller, director of the Hub, said the previous approach to analysing these basins has been based on interpreting geological data and two-dimensional models.
“We apply infinitely more computing power to enhance our understanding of sedimentary basins as the product of the complex interplay between surface and deep Earth processes,” he said.
Other partners of the Basin GENESIS Hub include the California Institute of Technology, CSIRO Earth Science and Resource Engineering, Curtin University’s Petroleum Group, Geoscience Australia, NICTA and the University of Melbourne.
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