The surveys in brief
About the airborne surveys
The geophysical survey measures traces of natural magnetism and radioactivity to make maps of the properties of the rocks, soils and fluids under the skin of the Earth. These traces are so minute that the aircraft needed to fly as close to the ground as permitted (80 m over the countryside, 250 m over towns) in order to measure them and make detailed maps.
The airborne LiDAR survey bounces a laser beam off both the ground and vegetation to make a 3D map of the landscape, buildings and tree cover. The map is accurate to within a few centimetres. The survey aircraft flew higher and sometimes at night to cover the area quickly.
About the ground surveys
Small teams of technicians and student volunteers collected soil and stream sediment samples using soil augers, trowels and sieves, and using GPS for accurate site location. Samples were returned to the laboratory for sophisticated instruments to analyse their constituent elements, molecules and DNA.
What will the data tell us?
The data will be used by scientists, government and businesses, working together for many purposes, including:
- finding out how much mineral wealth still lies below the region, and how we can mine those minerals economically, creating new investment and jobs, without detrimental impacts on the environment
- understanding how the natural plumbing works underground, how water and gases move through the ground, and how we can protect our water, soil and homes from hazardous pollution
- mapping the essential minerals and nutrients present in the soil, and how these can be supplemented or managed to improve the productivity of our farmland
- working out how much carbon dioxide is taken out of the air each year by vegetation growth, how much is permanently locked in the soil and how much is released back into air
- mapping areas that are most prone to flooding and landslides, and what we can do to protect them
- how much heat is present in the ground, and how we can exploit it economically as a clean and renewable energy source
- how much natural and artificial contamination is finding its way into the tiniest organisms in the food chain, how this affects the health of our natural habitats and ecosystems, and what we can do to remedy the impacts