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Evolution of Proterozoic multistage rift basins – key to mineral systems

Australia

ARC Linkage Project 190100146

This project will undertake the innovative analysis of sedimentary basins for mineral exploration: Australia’s sedimentary basins contain some of the largest mineral deposits on Earth and are therefore crucial for the future wealth of Australian society. Exploration for resources in frontier basins is however becoming increasingly challenging and costly as the sustainable supply of metals is contingent upon exploration success in deeper, poorly-defined targets. Understanding fundamental basin processes is critical to improving the exploration industries’ predictive capabilities in both established endowed and frontier basins.

Previous research on Australian basins has focussed on understanding their first-order evolution and architecture, the timing of mineralisation, and sediment sources 13-16. This project extends these studies by addressing how tectonic, thermal and surface processes interacted to deliver the network of permeability pathways, traps and the heat-engine required for the formation of ore deposits within basins. This is significant because it will support exploration success with more focussed targeting. Aims: This project will deliver a new quantitative and integrated exploratory framework for the mineral industry in Australia’s frontier sedimentary basins by integrating the latest advances in laboratory experimental tectonics together with thermo-mechanical numerical, surface process and geophysical modelling. The project will use the basins of the North Australian Craton as a natural laboratory, and will run in parallel with the M521 MRIWA project (Geodynamics through time – lithospheric and crustal-scale controls on multi-stage evolution and orogenesis and link to mineralizing processes), which is focussed on understanding the Proterozoic geology of the Paterson Orogen through basin analyses and geophysical and numerical modelling.