ARC Linkage Project: Tectonic Geography of the World's Oldest Petroleum Play, the McArthur Basin

Published on (GMT) by Alan Collins
The McArthur Basin of northern Australia is a vast frontier petroleum province, stretching from Queensland to Western Australia and with an unknown submarine northern extent. Exploration in the McArthur Basin is in Proterozoic rocks (rocks from ca. 1820-1300 million years old)—rocks older than any currently exploited petroleum systems on Earth—and many of the major targets are shale hosted (in tight reservoirs), making the McArthur Basin the most unconventional play on the planet. Much exploration risk is associated with this unconventionality. Petroleum in the basin has considerable potential to resource northern Australia and techniques developed here will be applicable in opening up Proterozoic petroleum plays elsewhere in Australia and around the world. Here we aim to undertake the much needed pre-competitive analysis of how the basin formed, what the environments of deposition were like in the basin, what the tectonic setting of the basin was, how the sediment got from where it was eroded to where it was deposited, and what happened to the basin after it formed. These disparate foci are encompassed by the term ‘tectonic geography’, and by understanding the evolving tectonic geography of the basin, we aim to assist in de-risking the basin by developing the essential 4D framework for effective exploration of the basin.
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