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Geophysical survey of West Coast region of South Island

25 June 2012

The government is currently undertaking an airborne aeromagnetic survey to provide a good understanding of the geology and structure of the West Coast region from Haast to Karamea. An aeromagnetic survey is conducted from a low flying aircraft and involves measuring characteristics naturally occurring in the earth.

The data collected will have a wide range of applications in fields such as geological mapping, forestry, agriculture and horticulture, geological hazard assessment, engineering and construction investigations, and minerals exploration. The survey will also provide a digital elevation model for application by the various industry sectors.

The survey does not include high value conservation land under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act, which includes the Fiordland National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, and the Westland Tai Poutini National Park.

The Te Wahipounamu/South West New Zealand World Heritage Area is being surveyed, but that area will not be part of any future competitive minerals tender that may be offered.

New Zealand is potentially highly prospective for a wide range of minerals. The government would like to see New Zealand maximise the benefits of safe and environmentally responsible development by reputable operators. Through the investment of exploration companies it will be possible to identify whether there are commercially viable mineral deposits.


When and how will the data be made available?

The survey is still underway. The data will be publicly available on the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals website (www.nzpam.govt.nz) around May 2013.


What form will the data be available in?

GIS maps, with layers, and access to the raw data will also be possible.


Will there be a cost for the data?

No – it will be available free from the New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals website.


How will the data be used?

The data has a wide range of applications. Examples of its use include:

  • to assist the West Coast’s primary industries (agriculture, forestry, horticulture and viticulture) by improving the soil mapping of the region.
  • the data will be extremely useful and potentially valuable for the Department of Conservation’s work, in particular soils data and for land capability assessments.
  • It will be useful in the public good area of geological hazard assessment, and informs engineering and construction investigations. Geological features such as contacts, faults, shear zones and folds that are often associated with land instability are very evident within geophysical data sets.
  • The data can be used to provide valuable subsurface information that can play an important role in better locating and designing infrastructure such as buildings, wind farms, new roads, sewerage systems and electrical reticulation.
  • The data will be of interest to minerals explorers, who would need to interpret it to determine if there are areas of potential mineralisation.


What is an aeromagnetic survey?

Aeromagnetic surveys include both magnetic and radiometric surveying. A magnetic survey involves measuring the magnetic characteristics of the ground below using a magnetometer, while radiometric surveying involves measuring naturally occurring radiation in the soils and rocks below. Interpretation of this data can be used for a wide variety of applications.