GAB | Inter-aquifer connectivity between Australia’s Great Artesian Basin and the overlying Condamine Alluvium: an assessment and its implications for the basin’s groundwater management

Title: Inter-aquifer connectivity between Australia’s Great Artesian Basin and the overlying Condamine Alluvium: an assessment and its implications for the basin’s groundwater management
Authors:
  • Sanjeev Pandey
  • Dhananjay Singh
  • Stephen Denner
  • Randall Cox
  • St.John Herbert
  • Chris Dickinson
  • Mark Gallagher
  • Linda Foster
  • Ben Cairns
  • Simon Gossman
Abstract:

Coal seam gas (CSG) or coal bed methane developments in sedimentary basins, such as the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) in Australia, have the potential to impact on aquifers overlying and underlying the target coal formations. The extent to which this may occur depends upon the degree of hydrogeological connectivity between the coal formations and the surrounding aquifers or aquifer systems, with general implications for groundwater management. In southeast Australia, one such aquifer system, the Condamine Alluvium (CA), overlies the Walloon Coal Measures (WCM), which is a formation of the GAB and also a target for CSG production. To investigate the connectivity between the two systems, multiple lines of investigation were employed involving field investigations, data gathering and analysis (including reinterpretation of geology, multivariate hydrochemistry analysis, regional water-level mapping, drilling and coring across the contact zone, multiple piezometer installations, long-term pumping tests, groundwater-level monitoring and local-scale modelling). The study found a low level of connectivity between the GAB and the overlying CA. A layer of undifferentiated basement clay (referred to as the ‘transition zone’) – a mixture of alluvial clay and weathered basement – provides an effective impediment to flow across the CA and the underlying GAB formations. Results from the study potentially have wider application across the GAB and sedimentary basins where younger alluvial sediments associated with river systems frequently overlie the erosional surface.

Citation: Due for publication early 2020
Keywords: TBC