Groundwater atlas

July 2013May 2016
The 3D portal can be used for visualising spatial and temporal groundwater chemistry and water level trends on regional and local scales. It covers most of eastern Australia’s Surat Basin

Groundwater atlas for the Surat Basin

This research resulted in the creation of a 3D Water Atlas - an online integrated 3D visualisation system that enables environmental managers and regulators to assess groundwater conditions, identify inconsistencies in data, manage impacts and risks and make more informed decisions about coal seam gas extraction, waste water extraction, and water reuse.

The 3D Water Chemistry Atlas is an intuitive, open source, web-based system that enables the three-dimensional (3D) subsurface visualisation of groundwater monitoring data, overlaid on the local geological model (formation and aquifer strata).


  • Open source, easy to use
  • Single source of separate data types
  • Information supporting projection of risks and operational costs:
    - Associated with water treatment
    - Water re-use options
    - Other risk indicators
  • Wider availability of QA/QC’d data and analytical tools
  • Adding value to legacy datasets
  • Integrated view of geological models and water chemistry
  • Single bore or regional comparisons
  • Statistical and geochemical analysis tools
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Time-series analysis
  • Capability to assess changes in water chemistry as fields become operational
  • Communication tools for community liaison


  • Virtual globe navigation – including map imagery and terrain
  • Ground push” to expose the subsurface geological features
  • Visualisation and search of bores – provided by Groundwater Database Tables
  • Visualisation of geological subsurface models
  • Browsing metadata of bore registration, stratigraphy, casing, aquifer and water analysis as well as other data attributes

This project was delivered across two main phases:

Phase 1: Feasibility study & development of database and prototype software tools. The technical feasibility study was completed to determine if there is sufficient groundwater quality data available to develop a Water Chemistry Atlas with the capability to address key technical questions regarding regional water quality trends and provide valuable information to government, industry and the community. The Feasibility Study provided an assessment of the data quality and extent and the level of analysis that the data can support. Key steps included:

  • Developing a test database structure for the Atlas and use of a subset of data from the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) water quality database for trial purposes.
  • Using a range of geochemical graphical techniques to analyse the water quality data.
  • Superimposing these analyses on a geological model of the region, which is based on data regarding factors such as location, depth and formation layer.
  • Using spatial, geological and temporal trend analysis (including a trial of 3D visualisation software) to determine if there are any patterns in water quality either within a coal seam or between a coal seam and other aquifers.
  • Identifying the best software to maximize access to data and results for researchers, industry professionals and the public.

Phase 2: During phase 2, the scope of the Atlas was enlarged from the pilot sub-region to the full extent of the Surat Basin and the prototype software tools were refined to improve performance. Additional datasets were added and new visualisation, analytical and reporting tools were developed. Protocols for database access, sharing, security and maintenance were also developed to ensure that the integrity of the data and outputs from the Atlas are maintained to a high standard.



  • Project status: Complete
  • Project leader: Associate Professor Sue Vink
  • Research team: Alexandra Wolhuter, Professor Jane Hunter, Professor Steve Tyson, Professor Joan Esterle, Dr Lucy Reading
  • Research group: The University of Queensland Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry & The University of Queensland School or Earth and Environmental Sciences & The University of Queensland School of Information Technology & Electrical Engineering & The University of Queensland Centre for Natural Gas (formerly known as The University of Queensland Centre for Coal Seam Gas)
  • Timeframe: Phase 1 (feasibility study), July 2013 - May 2014 & Phase 2 (3D cloud based atlas development): December 2014 - May 2016
  • Project funders: APLNG, Arrow Energy, QGC, Santos, University of Queensland


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