An Australian Geological Holy Grail Reveals Its Secret

The doors have swung open on a giant Canberra vault containing Australia's geological Holy Grail – about 33 thousand boxes of seismic secrets, as well as a lot of valuable rock samples.

Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, opened the vault to one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of seismic data.

Inside, Geoscience Australia has 40 years of geological secrets carefully stored – in boxes and on old data tapes.

"Here we have some of the most precious data imaginable for companies considering petroleum exploration in this country," said Mr. Macfarlane.

"Geoscience Australia is our foremost geological authority and this information could prove to be 'gold' for the petroleum sector."

"Access to this data is critical to the future of the resources industry in Australia so we've started bringing the samples and information into the 21st century."

"Re-mastering of the older data onto modern cartridges, which could take up to three years, will preserve this data from deterioration and loss," he said.

Geoscience Australia has begun upgrading its collection of seismic data tapes thanks to a $25 million budget allocation for acquiring and preserving vital information for petroleum exploration.

"Proving bigger is not always better, the transferal of this information will reduce the storage space needed to house the tapes from a massive 6000 shelf meters to just 30 and the old tapes will be recycled into plastic products such as garden stakes," said Mr. Macfarlane.

Contracts worth a total of $10 million have been signed with three Perth-based companies to re-master the data tapes from old style 9 track and 21 track magnetic tapes to modern 3590 media cartridges.

SpectrumData and Guardian Data Seismic won the tender to re-master the tapes, while GeoCom Services Australia will conduct quality assurance for the project, which should be completed within the next three years.