It has long been thought that a massive river system, almost 2000km long, extended from Queensland’s eastern margin and entered the sea near Ceduna, depositing enormous quantities of sediment from across the continent.
In contrast, this research has revealed that between 85 and 70 million years ago the river system depositing sediment into the delta was restricted to a series of smaller, fast-flowing rivers in the area around Ceduna. This area was being uplifted as Australia and Antarctica began to break apart, forming a series of hills which were then eroded, producing a more subdued landscape that today encompasses the Nullarbor Plain.
The University of Adelaide researchers are the first to analyse the ages of mineral grains contained in sediments from the only well drilled to date into the centre of the delta in the Great Australian Bight – revealing the nature and original sources of the sediment.
"By analysing this sediment, we’ve been able to reconstruct the landscape and major river drainage systems of the Australian continent about 80 million years ago," said project leader Dr Simon Holford. "It also gives us a better understanding of the hydrocarbon potential – the possibility of economic oil and gas production – from the region.
"To understand the hydrocarbon potential, we need to know the origin and nature of the reservoir rocks."
The 700km-wide Ceduna Delta, off the West Coast of South Australia, is about the same size as the Niger Delta in Western Africa, containing about 0.5 million cubic kilometres of sedimentary rock including sandstones and shales.
Many deltas contain large hydrocarbon reserves, and last year BP announced it would invest up to $1.4 billion exploring the Ceduna Delta for oil and gas.
Analysing the sediment, Dr Holford, PhD candidate Justin MacDonald, fellow researchers and Melbourne-based Geotrack International Pty Ltd, dated almost 1000 grains of the mineral zircon from the well’s core samples.
"By looking at the distribution of the ages of the minerals, we were able to identify different 'age populations' of zircon and produce a model of a river system which transported these minerals and deposited them on the margin of the continent," Dr Holford said.
"Our results showed that most of the sediment was derived much closer to the Great Australian Bight than has been previously thought. It gives us a much better handle on the geology and geomorphology of Australia 85-70 million years ago."
The research has been published in the Journal of the Geological Society.Dr Simon Holford
Dr Simon Holford | Newswise
NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system
21.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy