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Project name:Fowler Domain Airborne Electromagnetics
Project leader:Rian Dutch
Project group:Stephan Thiel
Tom Wise
Baohong Hou
Carmen Krapf
Program:Far West Discovery Program


Map showing location of Fowler Domain Airborne Electromagnetics projectThe Fowler Domain, located on the western flank of the Gawler Craton, is a largely under-explored, greenfields region of South Australia’s far west. The region has the potential to host copper-nickel massive sulfide and orogenic gold deposits, however significant exploration has been obstructed by thin yet extensive cover sequences overlaying the basement.

A recently collected suite of regional geophysical data encompassing the Fowler Domain has highlighted a number of major, lithospheric scale structures within the western Gawler Craton. These datasets include deep crustal and passive seismic, magnetotelluric and magnetic and radiometric data.

The collection of Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) data in this region will provide a critical new geophysical dataset that can help refine characteristics of the cover sequences and provide important depth to basement information.

Potential also exists for sedimentary-exhalative type base metal deposits within high metamorphic grade sedimentary packages and known orogenic style gold mineralisation, hosted within crustal scale shear zones such as the Challenger Deposit within the Christie Domain.


The Fowler Domain hosts magmatic-arc rocks of the St Peter Suite and multiple intrusions of Proterozoic mafic magmas and Hiltaba Suite granites further enhance the prospectivity of this region. However, exploration has been hampered by the thin but extensive Cenozoic cover sequences that blanket the region.

Like other poly-deformed cratonic margins, such as the Albany-Fraser region on the margin of the Yilgarn Craton, the western Gawler Craton has significant potential to host magmatic massive sulfide deposits (Cu-Ni-PGE) associated with significant mafic to ultramafic intrusions.

AEM data is often used in exploration for massive sulfide deposits as the first pass tool of choice for target generation, however the response of AEM is highly dependent on the type and thickness of cover and the presence, salinity and depth of groundwater. Acquiring a regional AEM dataset in the Fowler Domain is an important test on the usefulness of AEM systems and their ability to see through conducting cover, locate and map subsurface water resources and delineate exploration targets in the basement.

The ability for the characterisation of the thickness and types of cover provided by new AEM data is also essential in constraining regional soil and biogeochemical surveys. This dataset will provide important constraints on the location of paleochannels and groundwater aquifers and the types of cover present in the region, allowing the generation of more clearly defined cover type and cover thickness maps.

Integration of an AEM dataset, with surface geochemical and biogeochemical sampling, regional drilling and new and existing regional geophysical datasets will provide an insight into potential fluid pathways through the upper crust and into the sedimentary cover. This will allow the generation of new exploration models and aid targeting of mineral systems, opening up new exploration opportunities for companies working in this frontier region of the state.

Key outcomes

  • New regional 5 km spaced airborne electromagnetic survey data over the prospective Fowler and western Christie domains in the western Gawler Craton
  • A regional assessment of cover thickness, cover types and conductivity and distribution of paleochannels to better inform exploration strategies

Schedule for information and product delivery

Deliverable Time frame
New regional 5 km spaced AEM survey and data available via SARIGQ2 2018
New cover thickness map, digital map download, SARIGQ4 2018
Updated paleochannel mapQ4 2018
Report on survey results; MESA Journal articleQ4 2018