Geoscience shows our high country starts with New Zealand

Victoria’s scenic high country continues to be influenced by New Zealand as trans-Tasman tectonic pressure drives up our mountain range.

Results from a new deep crustal seismic reflection survey of north east Victoria and south east New South Wales have imaged a 60 km vertical slice of the Australian Alps, revealing its dynamic geology and a few surprises.

The applied research supports the idea that the Australian Alps in southeast Australia are ‘young’ and dynamic, forming their present shapes in the last 10 million years, rather than being the eroded stumps of an ancient mountain range.

The main driver for this modest mountain building is stress being transferred through the Earth’s crust from the ongoing tectonic plate boundary collision in New Zealand.

Extending from Benalla in Victoria and finishing south of Eden in NSW, the geological scan took 18 months to acquire, process and interpret, covered 629 km and recorded echoes from rocks deep within the earth.

The Victorian survey route followed selected private and public roads and tracks around Benalla, Myrtleford, Eskdale, Tom Groggin, Benambra, Wulgulmerang, Tubbut, Bonang and Bendoc.

The results of the big science project are being presented on 27 September 2019 to a south-eastern Australian geology conference in Wagga Wagga.

The project was carried out through a collaboration of government agencies involving the Geological Survey of Victoria, Geoscience Australia, the Geological Survey of New South Wales and research agency AuScope Limited.

A ground-based gravity survey was also conducted along the same route earlier in 2019. Both surveys have contributed more than $230,000 directly to regional economies in north east Victoria through local purchasing of items such as fuel, accommodation, food and supplies.

The survey findings will be made public through this website, including a short film to show the collection of the data and the geology of the region.

As noted by Paul McDonald, Director Geological Survey of Victoria:

Advancing public knowledge of the state’s geological architecture and how it has evolved over the past 500 million years is a key focus of the Geological Survey of Victoria.

As noted by Dr Tim Rawling, Chief Executive Officer AuScope:

This ambitious and nationally significant data acquisition program has provided a very valuable dataset that will provide long-lived value to researchers, the exploration industry and government.

Quote, attributable to Dr Andrew Heap, Chief of Resources, Geoscience Australia:

This is a fantastic example of strong collaboration between Geoscience Australia and geoscience agencies, resulting in new scientific insights and improved prospectivity for south-eastern Australia.

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