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Gawler Craton Airborne Survey in full swing

New data being acquired from the world’s largest high-resolution airborne geophysical and terrain imaging program will be fundamental in reinterpreting the geological structure of the Gawler Craton.

Figure 1 Interactive map from the Gawler Craton Airborne Survey community information webpage.
Figure 1 Interactive map from the Gawler Craton Airborne Survey community information webpage. Blue regions indicate survey blocks in progress; flight plans for the week are updated to indicate the main region being surveyed in each active block. Clicking the airplane icon provides call-sign information for the aircraft on each block. Clicking the blocks provides contractor information as well as start and completion dates for each region in progress.

The Gawler Craton Airborne Survey officially commenced on 20 January 2017 when Thomson Aviation flew the first survey flight lines in Region 4A, roughly 100 km northwest of Ceduna (Fig. 1). That flight captured the first of approximately 1,800,000 line kilometres of new magnetic, radiometric and elevation data over an area of about 324,000 square kilometres. When complete, this new single, uniform dataset will surpass the current patchwork of historical surveys covering the Gawler Craton.

Since that first flight, geophysical survey aircraft from MagSpec Airborne Surveys (Regions 2A and 2B), Sander Geophysics (Regions 3A and 3B) and a second aircraft from Thomson Aviation (Region 4B) have also been mobilised. This gives a total of six aircraft simultaneously capturing geophysical data over regions in the north, east and west of the Gawler Craton. The active survey regions are shown in Figure 1.

To keep the community informed of the most up-to-date logistical information during the survey, the Gawler Craton Airborne Survey community information webpage was developed. The website keeps stakeholders such as landowners and the community up to date on aircraft activity for the entire duration of the survey, which is expected to be complete mid 2018. The website features an interactive map to allow easy identification of the aircraft involved, in addition to providing detailed information about survey flight plans and completion status of survey subregions. The information in the map is updated weekly. An email subscription service available via the webpage provides updates that inform of survey region commencement, completion or other milestone events during the life of the survey. Frequent questions are answered and both email and telephone inquiries are available via the site. For stakeholders that need to contact the contractors performing the survey, a contractor directory provides all of the relevant information.

The survey is being undertaken by the South Australian Government in partnership with Geoscience Australia and is a key program within the Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE) Copper initiative, part of South Australia's Copper Strategy.

Where to from here?

There are 17 survey regions in total, of which six are underway. When the current survey regions near completion, the process of surveying a further series of regions will begin and rolling contracts will be awarded to successful contractors until the entire survey is complete in mid 2018. Data resulting from each survey block will be released via the South Australian Resources  South Australian Resources Information Gateway (SARIG) and Geoscience Australia as soon as possible after quality control checks are complete, enabling stakeholders to utilise the data within the shortest possible timeframe.

More information about the Gawler Craton Airborne Survey Project

– Laszlo Katona, Miles Davies, Ursula Michael and Tania Davies

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