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Discovery Day: new search spaces

Propelling South Australia’s exploration sector.

Leading-edge geoscience shared at Geological Survey of South Australia’s (GSSA’s) Discovery Day has illuminated new playing fields and enlarged the greenfield search space to stimulate exploration.

Promoted as the largest Geological Survey event on the Australian calendar with over 350 registrants, Discovery Day delivered a line-up of world-class talks and displays on all aspects of geoscience relevant to exploration and discovery of mineral deposits.

Alex Blood

Mineral Resources Executive Director Alex Blood welcoming delegates. (Photo 416250)

New releases

Delegates responded enthusiastically to new geophysics releases: deep-probing magnetotelluric (MT) data has identified zones of previously underappreciated prospectivity in the state. The GSSA has garnered expertise in applying MT data to map zones of ancient fluid flow in the mantle and crust, key to recognising areas of broader mineral potential.

The PACE Copper funded AusLAMP MT geophysics project in the northeast of South Australia has identified the boundaries of the Gawler Craton in this region. Likewise, a scale-reduction MT transect in the Curnamona Province has identified potential fluid pathways that were previously unrecognisable in regional-scale data.

Kate Robertson

Kate Robertson presenting deep-probing MT data which has identified zones of previously underappreciated prospectivity in the state. (Photo 416246)

Further, Discovery Day highlighted the release of tranche 2a and 2b of the Gawler Craton Airborne Survey data and a preview of a suite of value-added analytic data products, produced in tandem with CSIRO, which were showcased in the exhibition space with interactive talks from experts driving the world-class acquisition and delivery of this major government initiative. This work continues with the next data and value-added products expected in the first quarter of 2018, and when finished will collect more than 1.87 million line kilometres of new magnetic, radiometric and elevation data.

The delivery of free new datasets prompted the Director of the Geological Survey to challenge explorers to take a good look at areas that lack tenements and ‘not to sit on conductivity zones’.

Steve Hill

Geological Survey Director Steve Hill presenting the Geological Survey of South Australia's Top 10. (Photo 416245)

A selection of drill core enabled participants to form firsthand impressions of the Coompana Province. Revealing a plethora of different rock types and providing a huge resource for mapping the prospective basement in the state’s Far West, the $3 million PACE Copper Coompana drilling program and associated geophysics and surface geochemical survey was held up as a once in a generation opportunity to open up new ideas on the geological and metallogenic evolution of this portion of the Australian continent.

drill core

A selection of drill core enabled participants to form firsthand impressions of the Coompana Province. (Photo 416248)

New reports on the eight drillholes, totalling 1.5 km of core, plus reports into processing of newly acquired gravity and magnetic data across Coompana is a sample of the work portfolio that will be released in the coming months as follow-up geochemistry, geochronology and geological interpretations are completed by GSSA.

In this way, GSSA and our collaborative partners are redrawing Australia’s geological map and uncovering entirely new portions of South Australia.

Collaborative synergies

Discovery Day also delivered on key data, knowledge and technology from the DET CRC, and its collaborative work with the GSSA’s flagship Mineral Systems Drilling Project. The release of the final reports from this ambitious program and the display of DET CRC’s coiled tubing drilling rig – RoXplorer® – as the centrepiece of the exhibition space at Discovery Day underscored the capacity of the GSSA to instigate and deliver technically challenging and innovative geoscientific projects.


The RoXplorer® coiled tubing drilling rig was the centrepiece of the exhibition space. (Photo 416247)

Keynote speakers delivered an impressive array of insights into mineral systems both in South Australia and further afield. Sandi Occhipinti of the University of Western Australia, Colin Card of the Saskatchewan Geological Survey and Kathy Ehrig of BHP Olympic Dam delivered talks that were both challenging and informative. Contributions from the GSSA and collaborators including DET CRC, CSIRO, University of Adelaide, University of South Australia and University of Tasmania (CODES), coupled with the over 35 technical posters presented in the exhibition space, brought together an impressive gathering of geoscience expertise.

The audience actively engaged during the panel session that discussed the AMIRA UNCOVER Roadmap and put excellent questions to all speakers throughout the day. Break times buzzed as delegates stimulated by talks and posters made the most of the opportunity to network with peers.

panel sessions

The audience actively engaged during panel sessions and put excellent questions to all speakers throughout the day. (Photo 416249)

The 2017 Discovery Day set a new benchmark for how GSSA engages with the geoscience and exploration community.

The next Discovery Day will be held on 6 December 2018 – save the date!

Discovery Day presentations, abstracts and posters

– Anthony Reid and Grace Taylor

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