Great Artesian Basin

Also found in: Acronyms, Wikipedia.

Great Artesian Basin,

c.670,000 sq mi (1,735,300 sq km), between the Eastern Highlands and the Western Plateau, E central Australia, extending S from the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland, to NE South Australia and N New South Wales. It is the world's largest artesian water-bearing area. The arid basin receives water from the Eastern Highlands as rain is absorbed by porous rock and flows underground toward the center of the saucer-shaped basin. Thousands of wells, some over 1 mi (1.6 km) deep, tap underground water-bearing rock formations. The rolling surface of the basin supports a pastoral economy mainly based on livestock watering systems. The highly mineralized artesian water cannot be used for agriculture.

Great Artesian Basin


the largest artesian basin in Australia, the second largest in the world (after the Western Siberian in the USSR). Area, 1,736,000 sq km.

The Great Artesian Basin stretches for more than 2,200 km from the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria to the central section of the Darling River and is almost 1,800 km broad from west to east in the southern section, which is the widest. It was formed by the downwarp of an ancient crystal basis, which had been filled with sedimentary layers up to 2,500 m thick, dating from the Paleozoic to the Neocene periods. The main water-bearing layers are Mesozoic sandstone.

Groundwater is replenished mainly by atmospheric precipitation, which falls on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range (approximately 625 mm annually). The waters, which often have mineral content, collect at a great depth (up to 2,000 m); in the region of Eyre Lake, mineral springs are frequent at the surface. Their temperature increases in proportion to the layer at which they lie, on the average, 1°C for each 32.5 m. The highest temperature (110° C) is found in Queensland. Most wells are in the arid cattle-raising region, where water is pumped to the surface and protected from evaporation in closed water cisterns. The basin is also used as a water supply for industrial purposes as far as the mineral content will permit.

References in periodicals archive ?
Since 1982 the mine has been drawing ever increasing quantities of water from the Great Artesian Basin.
The `discovery' in 1878 of Australia's Great Artesian Basin was a turning point for pastoralism and conservation in the rangelands.
Of particular note were the thousands of postcards sent to SA Premier Mike Rann and the Chairman of BHP Billiton, Don Argus in November and December 2005, urging them to stop BHP Billiton's proposal to extract an additional 150 million litres of water a day from the precious supplies of the Great Artesian Basin.
The new Great Artesian Basin Advisory Council will provide valuable advice so we can deliver the best water management outcomes for the industry, local communities and the environment, Mr Cripps said.
The new council is well balanced and includes representation from the community, indigenous, industry and other key stakeholder groups with interests in the Great Artesian Basin.
Thousands of ACF's members and supporters wrote to both Premier Rann and BHP Billiton, urging them to dump plans for a five-fold increase in water extraction--to over 150 million litres a day--that would have threatened the survival of the unique and fragile Great Artesian Basin springs.
But also, the most effective lobbying campaign ever by Don Henry, of the Australian Conservation Foundation, who strongly argued about us issuing more licences to take water out of the Great Artesian Basin.
Recently our members and supporters sent thousands of postcards to the Chairman of BHP Billiton and the Premier of South Australia urging, among other things, that the proposed Roxby Downs mine expansion not take additional ancient water from the Great Artesian Basin.
Don Henry greeted news that the SA government and BHP Billiton had agreed that no additional artesian water would be used to service the Olympic Dam mine as "a win for the Great Artesian Basin, the Murray River and the many thousands of concerned Australians who have urged the Government and the company to protect the Basin".
In response to strong media coverage and thousands of cards from ACF supporters, the world's biggest mining company and the SA Premier have had to rule out the proposed five fold increase in the mine's water extraction from the Great Artesian Basin.
However he confirmed that the company is still considering the extraction of 150 million litres of water every day, for up to 50 years, from the Great Artesian Basin.
Already the biggest industrial user of underground water in the southern hemisphere WMC is licensed to take 42 million litres a day free of charge for 40 years from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB).