Large-scale geophysical survey underway in the Tanami


A major new airborne geophysical survey is underway in the Tanami Desert – one of the first major products to be released under the Territory Government’s new $26 million Resourcing the Territory initiative.

It is one of the largest scale geophysical surveys ever undertaken to support mineral exploration in the Territory.

The survey is being acquired over a 42,410 km2 area, located approximately 300 km west of Tennant Creek adjacent to the NT/WA border, and is measuring the natural magnetism of the rocks beneath the Tanami Desert.

This effectively allows geologists to ‘see through’ the sand and interpret the underlying geology.

Two planes will fly a total of 275,000 km, on flight lines that will be between 100 and 200m apart.

The planes have an instrument called a magnetometer attached to the aircraft that measures small changes in the earth’s magnetic field caused by the magnetism of underlying rocks as the plane passes over. These measurements are combined to make an image of the magnetism of rocks below the surface.

The Tanami Region is the Territory’s premier gold-producing province, and existing gold production is a major contributor to the NT economy, and to local Aboriginal communities.

However, discovering new deposits in the area is challenging due to the difficulty of detecting deposits beneath the sand cover.

This new survey will provide industry with important new tools to better interpret the geology in order to target future drilling programs, not only for gold but for other commodities that may occur in the region, such as copper and nickel.

Increasing the quality of geophysical data in the Tanami will lower the risk and cost for industry to explore in this remote area, which will help attract further investment into the region.

Three exploration companies have made significant financial contributions to the survey to increase the resolution of data in their areas of interest.

The survey, which commenced in July, will take approximately five months to complete.

Airborne magnetics survey plane flies over Prodigy Gold aircore drilling
Airborne magnetics survey plane flies over Prodigy Gold aircore drilling. Photo: Prodigy Gold

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