By Sarah Byrne

DEVELOPMENT of a comprehensive water chemistry database covering the Surat basin, led by researchers at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Coal Seam Gas, is expected to be complete in early 2016.

Oil & Gas Australia heard from researchers Sue Vink, from the Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry; Jane Hunter from the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering; and Jim Underschultz of the Centre for Coal Seam Gas about the project and how it may impact the oil and gas industry.

Known as the Water Atlas, the database is currently undergoing an extension from its pilot sub-region to the full extent of the Surat basin, researchers said.

The prototype software tools will be refined to improve performance, as well as additional datasets added and new visualisation, analytical and reporting tools developed.

“The Atlas is a step-forward in data-access, visualisation and analytical capabilities,” the researchers said in comments emailed to the magazine.

“We hope that use of this type of technology backed up by independent, university expert interpretation will contribute towards a better quality discussion about ground water changes between scientists, decision makers and opinion formers.”

The Water Atlas follows on from a feasibility study, which was used to provide an assessment of the data quality and extent and the level of analysis that the data can support.

Protocols for database access, sharing, security and maintenance will also be developed to ensure that the integrity of the data and outputs from the atlas are maintained to a high standard, the Centre said.

Enhancing a vast amount of water quality data enabling the interpretation of temporal and spatial background variations or tends, the researchers said.

The project will also allow users to view virtually all publically available groundwater level and chemistry data together with geological features online without the need for specialist software, the researchers said.

“The visualisation interface will help government and industry by enabling them to cross check information such as bore casing details from both drillers logs and formation assignments from geological models such as the one produced by the Queensland Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment.”

Developing a system that integrates a database and an open-source 3D visualisation platform, while ensuring data from different sources is aligned correctly was a challenge for the project, the researchers said.

“This was important to future-proof the technology,” the researchers added.

“The work should result in a quality-assured, independently managed, easy to use 3-D Atlas of geological and groundwater information for the Surat basin.”

They added that the resource sector in general and the gas industry in particular to increasingly need databases and visualisation systems that present and integrate information from a variety of sources and disciplines.

“Given Queensland’s lead in the development of onshore gas, we hope that the science, technology and methodology will be of interest to other States,” the researchers said.

The Centre for Coal Seam Gas’s water-related research addresses the impacts of coal seam gas extraction on groundwater and surface water resources; the hydraulic connectivity of coal seam and agricultural aquifers; and the development of adaptivewater and environmental management strategies.