The aeromagnetic and radiometric survey is designed to gather quality information on the geological makeup of Southland, including its soils and trace minerals, fault lines and geological systems.
In December 2014, the Government announced it was planning to invest $8 million into acquiring and analyse new aeromagnetic data, $6 million of this was set aside to understand geological structures in Southland, Otago and Marlborough.
Representatives from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals visited Southland in February 2015 to discuss the planned work and the potential for the survey to be extended through local involvement.
The government-funded areas included a significant proportion of the Clutha and Gore Districts and the Western and Northern Southland areas.
Southland councils agreed to, and confirmed funding for, the extension of the survey so that it covered the remaining Southern area, an area of 5,567 square kilometres, at the additional cost of $686,000.
The aeromagnetic and radiometric survey was conducted from the air by a fixed-wing aircraft during the summer of 2016-2017 and came in $234,400 below budget.
In 2012, $100,000 was allocated to assist with the detailed analysis of the survey work, which will help councils and key stakeholders to make informed land use and fertilizer use decisions, identify possible geological structures that may contain water and assist with water allocation decisions across the Southland region.
This interpretation is currently in progress and is due to be completed by July 2019. The analysis will include a range of recommendations and a peer review.
To date, early stage analysis of the collated data has indicated a suitable volume of supply of groundwater may be available from a series of bores. It is important, however, that the work to date is at a very early stage and that further investigatory works are required to quantify the resource and better understand the potential.