Petroleum source rocks of Western Australia – an overview

Ghori, Khwaja Ameed Ur Rehman1

1Department Of Mines, Industry Regulation And Safety, Perth, Australia

Western Australia is the largest State in Australia and contains several Precambrian and Phanerozoic basins. The stratigraphic and geographic extents of these basins are very large and all contain several potential source rocks. The age of these source rocks ranges from Neoproterozoic to Mesozoic. Many of these basins are underexplored with potential for undiscovered petroleum resources. 

Some of these source rocks have sourced significant discovered volumes of petroleum resources accumulated within sand, carbonate and shale reservoirs of Western Australia. Currently, the Canning, Northern Carnarvon and Perth Basins have commercial production, whereas there is no producing fields in the Amadeus, Bight, Bonaparte, Browse and Officer Basins within Western Australian jurisdiction.

The Amadeus, Bonaparte and Browse Basins have at least one genetically related oil family; the offshore Carnarvon Basin has four, the Canning Basin has three, and the Perth Basin has four. These oil families have been identified from chemometric and statistical analysis of a large regional multivariate dataset.

These oil families are interpreted to be sourced from:

  • Amadeus Basin — the Tonian Gillen, Loves Creek and Wallara formations, the Cryogenian Areyonga and Aralka formations, the Ediacaran Pertatataka Formation, the Cambrian Pertacorta Group, the Ordovician Horn Valley Siltstone within Ordovician Larrapinta Group and Devonian Pertnjara Group
  • Bonaparte Basin — Devonian Ningbing Group and Bonaparte Formation and Carboniferous Milligans Formation
  • Browse Basin — Jurassic Plover and Vulcan formations, Cretaceous Echuca Shoals Formation
  • Canning Basin — Carboniferous Laurel, Devonian Gogo, and Ordovician Goldwyer formations
  • Northern Carnarvon Basin — Jurassic Dingo Claystone and Triassic Locker Shale
  • Southern Carnarvon Basin — Devonian Gneudna Formation, Lower Permian Wooramel and Byro groups
  • Officer Basin — Neoproterozoic Brown, Hussar, Kanpa, and Steptoe formations
  • Perth Basin — Permian Carynginia and Irwin Coal Measure,  Jurassic Cattamarra Coal Measures, Triassic Kockatea Shale

KEYWORDS: Amadeus Basin, Bonaparte Basin, Browse Basin, Canning Basin, Carnarvon Basin, Officer Basin, Perth Basin, petroleum source rock, petroleum systems, Western Australia


Ameed Ghori is an experienced petroleum geologist/geochemist. Specializing in managing TEAM based integrated petroleum and geothermal system studies. He has up-to-date knowledge developed through various short-courses, conference-presentations on Australian, Ugandan, Libyan, and Pakistani basins that are published in national and international journals. Plus various company confidential reports.

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