Building the next generation of digital models to guide management of groundwater and natural gas resources

May 2020May 2023
ARC Linkage Project
Building strong digital modelling capacity is an important mechanism in delivering the advances needed to provide more accurate estimation of gas and groundwater flows says project leader, Professor Suzanne Hurter

Building the next generation of digital models to guide management of groundwater and natural gas resources

This project aims to develop and integrate a range of advanced techniques to deliver continued improvements to sub-surface, geological and hydrogeological modelling that can be used by industry and government for groundwater management and the extraction of the State’s gas resources.

It will be focussed on gas and water modelling in Queensland’s Surat Basin, however the outcomes have a much broader application for modelling of a broad range of resources, including in other basins in Australia and worldwide.

The research aims to improve how models predict the extent of change in rock characteristics across the model area. These changes directly affect how easily gas and water flow through the subsurface.

Responsible management of gas and water resources is vital for Australia’s economy and society at large. This project seeks to strengthen the tools available by improving digital modelling to assist in resources management: This includes:

  • Establishing and validating a new sequence stratigraphic framework for the Surat Basin in Queensland by underpinning it with new age dates of zircons (a mineral) and use of fossil data to better understand the source of different sediment layers.
  • Improving modelling of the subsurface flow of water and gas from coal seams and water from the Great Artesian Basin with a new geological correlation methodology combined with new non-linear geostatistical techniques.


  • A new Surat Basin sequence stratigraphic framework, calibrated by age-dating techniques.
  • Improved understanding of the heterogeneity (variation) of the coal distribution and aquifers of the Great Artesian Basins (GAB) in areas of interest.
  • A new correlation scheme combined with copula-based geostatistics to produce geological models that better represent heterogeneity and provide more representative simulations of subsurface flows of gas and water.
  • An integrated suite of models to evaluate the impact of the new framework and geostatistics techniques i.e. to determine the level of improvement they deliver compared to existing methods. This will provide an evidence base for any recommendations to change current modelling practices.
  • Project status: Contracts underway, due to commence soon
  • Project title: New stratigraphy and geostatistics for gas and water resources
  • Project leader: Professor Andrew Garnett & Professor Suzanne Hurter
  • Research group: The University of Queensland Centre for Natural Gas
  • Timeframe: May 2020 - May 2023 (estimated)
  • Project funders: APLNG, Arrow Energy, Santos, University of Queensland, the Queensland Government’s Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) and Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project funding


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