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Soil Hydrocarbon Survey

Plastic module used in soil hydrocarbon surveys on a person's hand, the size and shape of a long shoelace

In 2012 as part of CarbonNet, the Victorian Government conducted a soil hydrocarbon survey in Gippsland to gather data on the geological formation of the region.

The survey took place from March to July 2012, following consultation with stakeholders, landowners and the relevant authorities.

Geologists from the Geological Survey of Victoria placed modules the size and shape of shoelaces in the ground at a depth between 40 cm and one metre and collected these approximately three weeks later. The modules were sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Approximately 130 soil modules were placed on Crown and private land across the Gippsland region between Yarram and Lakes Entrance, and a further 9 in the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park.

The department received consent from private land holders, local councils, Parks Victoria and the former Department of Sustainability and Environment and complied with all conditions of approval.

As anticipated, traces of hydrocarbons were detected in the soil at all of the sample locations. Hydrocarbons exist naturally in the soil as a result of organic growth and decay processes. In areas such as Gippsland, it is also possible for traces of hydrocarbons to migrate over thousands of years from oil and gas reservoirs deep below ground in the Gippsland Basin. While these traces are minute, the patterns observed contribute to an understanding of the region's geology.

The findings of this survey complement a range of data being analysed by CarbonNet to examine potential storage sites for the long term, secure storage of CO2.

This project received funding from the Australian Government.

What is a soil hydrocarbon survey?

A soil hydrocarbon survey is a test that collects information on hydrocarbon pathways which helps us to better understand the geology of an area, such as how underground rock formations interact.

Why was a soil hydrocarbon survey conducted?

The Victorian Government is researching the feasibility of carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS is one of a number of options that the Victorian Government is looking at to reduce our carbon emissions. CCS technologies will help power stations cut emissions while ensuring we continue to have sustainable, affordable and low-emissions energy.

The soil hydrocarbon survey was conducted as part of the CarbonNet Project that is looking at the viability of capturing carbon dioxide from power stations and other large scale industrial facilities in the Latrobe Valley, and securely storing it deep below the ground in the Gippsland Basin’s geological formations. The Gippsland Basin has securely contained large reserves of oil and gas underground for millions of years.

Information gathered from the survey will help provide a better understanding of the rock formations that lie deep beneath the ground across the region.

How were the locations for sampling decided?

Our scientific experts examined current information about the underground geology in the region and determined the best locations for the survey.

Are you looking to store carbon dioxide under the properties where the survey took place?

All the testing and survey work is aimed at obtaining a better understanding of the region's geology. Once we have a clearer picture, we can look at what areas are most suitable for storage. Our focus is on offshore storage.

Was there any impact on local land?

This is a passive survey, meaning that there is no lasting impact on the land. No soil was removed from the site during the placement or removal of the module.

Will we be able to see the results of the survey?

A regional overview of the survey outcomes is now available on this website.

Where can I find more information?

If you have specific questions about the soil hydrocarbon survey or anything else about the CarbonNet Project, please send us an email on Send us your contact details and we will get back to you.


Download the Soil Hydrocarbon Survey: Regional Overview of Results at the earth resources online store


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