Improving the understanding of the Canning Basin

Carr, Lidena K.1, Edwards, Dianne S.1, Wang, Liuqi.1, Southby, Chris.1, MacFarlane, Susannah K.1, Boreham, Christopher, J.1, Grosjean, Emma.1, Khider, Kamal.1, Henson, Paul.1, Formin, Tanya.1, and Geological Survey of Western Australia1

1Geoscience Australia, Canberra, Australia

Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program has used new and established techniques to collect onshore pre-competitive datasets over northern Australia. The Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS) is a Western Australian Government initiative that aims to encourage exploration for the long-term sustainability of the state’s resources sector. Integration of EFTF and EIS datasets has improved our understanding of the northern part of Western Australia, and the associated energy, mineral and groundwater resources across northern Australia

The onshore Canning Basin covers approximately 530 000 km2, and has proven prospectivity for conventional oil and gas, mainly in the northern part of the basin. Unconventional resources remain largely unexplored and untested. Gas resource assessments indicate that the basin has potential for recoverable shale gas and tight gas. Canning Basin remains one of the least explored Paleozoic basins in the world (DMIRS, 2020).

Australia’s longest onshore seismic line, 18GA-KB1, was acquired in the southern Canning Basin to address a long standing data gap across the Kidson Sub-basin and Waukarlycarly Embayment that informs with the resource evaluation of this frontier region. The Kidson Sub-basin covers 91 000 km2 and has a sag basin architecture. Preliminary interpretation of the seismic data indicates that the sedimentary succession is approximately 6 km deep, and includes a conformable package of Ordovician–Devonian siliciclastic, carbonate and evaporite facies of exploration interest. Located on the western end of the seismic line, the newly drilled deep stratigraphic well Waukarlycarly 1 penetrated 2680.53 m of Cenozoic and Paleozoic strata and provides stratigraphic control for the geology imaged in the Waukarlycarly Embayment. A comprehensive elemental and δ13C isotope chemostratigraphy study assists with stratigraphic correlations within Ordovician sedimentary strata across the region (Forbes et al., 2020a, b).

Canning Basin oil and gas discoveries throughout the Canning Basin were generated from Paleozoic marine source rocks, deposited under stratified oxic to euxinic water columns. Three distinct petroleum systems, the Ordovician (Larapintine 2), Late Devonian (Larapintine 3) and latest Devonian–early Carboniferous (Larapintine 4), are recognised based on the geochemical character of their associated fluids (Carr et al., 2020). Widespread generation of gas from Paleozoic sources is evident from molecular analyses of gases recovered from petroleum wells and fluid inclusions (Boreham et al., 2020). Currently the Larapintine 2 Petroleum System is regarded as the most prospective system in the Kidson Sub-basin based on interpretations from new and existing well and seismic data.


Black Mountain Energy, 2020. American giant announces Canning Basin exploration. Energy News Bulletin, 7/16//2020.

Boreham, C.J., Edwards, D.S., Sohn, J.H., Palatty, P., Chen, J.H., Mory, A.J. 2020. Gas systems in the onshore Canning Basin as revealed by gas trapped in fluid inclusions. Geoscience Australia, Canberra.

Carr, L.K., Edwards, D.S., Anderson, J.R. and MacFarlane, S., 2020. Exploring for the future: Canning Basin. Seismic survey and geological interpretation. Geoscience Australia Record 2020/XXX, in prep.

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS), 2020. Canning Basin.

Forbes et al., 2020a. Chemostratigraphy of Waukarlycarly-1, Canning Basin, Western Australia. Report CAu50017 prepared for Geoscience Australia.

Forbes et al., 2020b. Chemostratigraphy of Kidson-1, Willara-1 and Samphire Marsh-1, Canning Basin, Western Australia. Report CAu50022 prepared for Geoscience Australia.


Lidena Carr is a geoscientist for the Onshore Energy Systems project at Geoscience Australia. She graduated from the Australian National University (ANU) in 2004. In 2007 She joined Geoscience Australia, before moving to her current position in to work as a seismic interpreter and basin analyst.

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