The Great Artesian Basin (GAB) is one of Australia's most significant hydrogeological entities covering more than 1.7 million square kilometres, underlying 22% of Australia and intersecting 4 state and territory boundaries. The GAB contains a vast volume of underground water and is the largest groundwater basin in Australia.
Groundwater resources in the GAB are used to support the pastoral, agricultural and resource sectors as well as supplying water to inland communities. Traditionally, there has been limited accessible scientific information available to decision makers, where properly managing these groundwater resources for competing interests requires a good understanding of how the system works at a regional scale. The GAB Atlas provides valuable information in a geospatial format to assist water managers and communities in making more informed decisions towards sustainable management of this vast water resource.
Associated Stakeholder or System:
State government water managers
Non FSDF datasets: National Surface Geology
National-scale spatial data has both directly influenced GAB Atlas data layers, and guided the analysis of the groundwater and geology-specific information to produce the Atlas. Remotely sensed data, such as MODIS imagery and the Dynamic Land Cover dataset were essential in quantifying potential water losses from the GAB due to evapotranspiration, and the SRTM 3 second DEM was fundamental for geomorphology mapping.
Baseline surface water hydrology, national topographic and elevation data enabled scientists to contextualise their hydrogeologic assessments in producing the GAB Atlas, and communicate results in an accessible cartographic form. Geospatial datasets played a significant role in enabling effective communication of scientific concepts to wider non-scientific audiences (such as policy and decision makers) through the Atlas, which also involved cataloguing relevant data and enabling data supply mechanisms to assist those with interests in understanding this environmental asset.
The GAB Atlas and associated datasets combine to form a valuable information resource base for water managers and communities to support informed management decisions for the GAB. The Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines used the GAB Atlas as a basis for developing their water management plans and policies, as well as to inform outsourced regional hydrogeological assessments. It provides previously inaccessible baseline information against which future changes can be assessed, and a reference point to evaluate the effectiveness of management activities. The GAB Atlas also makes valuable scientific data available to a much wider and non-scientific audience than before, and its geospatial format is an accessible way to communicate the GAB’s complex characteristics.