Research projects

Goyder Institute - G-FLOWS


G-FLOWS 3 Collaborating Organisations: Goyder Institute, Department for Environment and Water, CSIRO, Flinders University/NCGRT, UniSA.

Researchers: Adrian Costar, Dr Tim Munday & Dr Andy Love

This project focused on data-poor areas of arid South Australia and made advances using a range of scientific methods to better understand the water resources of arid inland South Australia. G‐FLOWS‐1 has used multiple data sources to bring together a comprehensive current conceptual model of hydrogeology in the Musgrave Province. This harnessed remotely‐sensed datasets, with on‐ground and borehole measurements, to provide a much greater sense of the subsurface variability in the area.


Assessed techniques for combining topographic and airborne geophysical datasets and developed a hydrogeological framework for the Musgrave Province.
Collated and enhanced multiple spatial datasets in the Musgrave Province, to provide best available information of groundwater, aquifer characteristics and variability. These supported the hydrogeological model, allowing targeting of future finer‐scale assessments of extensive subsurface drainage features.
Developed a processing and inversion strategy for employing historical and contemporary EM data affected by system uncertainties and errors, to produce calibrated data for hydrogeological assessment. This was undertaken in the Frome Embayment using fixed‐wing and helicopter TDEM datasets acquired between 2000 and 2012.

The findings of this project are detailed in Technical Report 13/13


The Goyder Institute G-FLOWS 2 (Finding Long-term Outback Water Solutions) project increased our knowledge about the character and variability of outback groundwater resources, the sustainability of those resources and their relationship to environmental and cultural assets. The outcomes of this project have enabled prudent decision making and policies regarding water allocation, accounting, licensing and sustainable yields whilst ensuring groundwater-dependent ecosystems and environmental assets are protected.

This work also assisted in the development of water supplies for remote Far North communities by identifying alternate groundwater sources to improve water supply security.

To date, our research has developed methodologies to interpret airborne geophysics that can locate new groundwater sources from existing information. These methodologies are now being tested and evaluated in case study locations in the Northern Eyre Peninsula.

G-FLOWS 3 - In Progress

The Musgrave geological province of South Australia has been identified as a key priority area for exploration and mining development in the APY Lands. The community water supplies in this remote, low rainfall area are dependent on local groundwater resources, of which there is insufficient data to establish the security of supply or regional water source options. There is a need for improved understanding of the groundwater resource potential in these remote, data-poor areas to support communities, industry and the environment.

The State Government has identified the Musgrave geological province as an important frontier exploration area for further mining industry development in South Australia. Water supply for mining operations will be a major issue for the development of mining in these areas. In order to assist the development of mineral resources and facilitate improvements to the water security of regional communities in the Musgrave geological province, there is a need to better understand the potential of groundwater resources in these areas to supply water of suitable quality for the purposes of mining operations, as well as for community water supplies and aboriginal pastoral industry development. The key management issues to be addressed are:

The paucity of groundwater information available to provide advice to the mining sector regarding water supply options for new developments in these regions; and,
The need for methods to gather groundwater data cost-effectively over a large area, utilising (airborne) remote sensing technologies and other landscape, geology and hydrogeology information to target field investigation and assessment programmes.

The research questions to be addressed are:

Can the application of airborne electromagnetic survey methods for the quantification of the potential volume of unconfined groundwater resources be validated, based on data derived from ground-based hydrogeological investigations?
Within the Musgrave geological provinces, where are the locations with the highest likelihood of groundwater resources that are useful for mining water supply or regional community water supplies?

Project Leader:
Adrian Costar, DEW | Dr Tim Munday, CSIRO | Dr Andy Love, Flinders University
Project Partners:
Department for Environment and Water (DEW), CSIRO, Flinders University, UniSA

Project Webpage

Media - How Science found liquid gold in the desert

Engagement & Outreach