Subsurface Observatory


The Subsurface Observatory Program came into being with the recognition of the wealth of research possibilities represented by drilling programs undertaken in resource exploration. The Program was developed to facilitate research groups seeking to unlock these opportunities through the experimentation and acquisition of data only possible from deep holes and the subsurface.


The Subsurface Observation Program, based at the University of Melbourne, now has capabilities covering a wide array of field-deploy able instruments for both borehole and broader surface deployment. These include borehole, surface and aftershock seismometer fleets, as well as tools for (geo-) thermal and structural analysis. This is supported by a comprehensive suite of laboratory-based analytical tools, operated by our technical staff in the Petrophysics Laboratory, in the School of Earth Sciences.

In the last three years, the Programs collaborators have included The University of Adelaide, The University of Western Australia, The University of Melbourne, CSIRO, NSW Department of Trade, GSWA, PIRSA, GSV, Geoscience Australia, DETCRC, CO2CRC – Peter Cook Centre and the Australian School of Petroleum. Projects with these institutions have been undertaken in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, The Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Field based instruments

  • Surface seismometer fleet.
  • Borehole seismometer fleet.
  • Broadband aftershock instruments.
  • Distributed Temperature Sensor – an AP Sensing optic fibre and laser-based instrument.
  • Geo-DTS AP Sensing DTS system with integrated heating loop.
  • Wireline temperature logger and natural gamma tool.
  • ALT Acoustic Televiewer.
  • Surface and borehole tilt-meters
  • Atmospheric monitoring tools (CO2/CH4) by Picarro.
  • Gravity meter gPhone.
  • Field deployment infrastructure including trailers, winches and generators.


The Subsurface Observation Programs Petrophysics Laboratory is well equipped for continuous scanning of bulk core and for individual analysis of discrete specimens. The Subsurface Observatory routinely undertakes Multi-Scanning of large volumes of recently acquired (and archival) drill core, from around the country, for a suite of Petrophysical properties.


Petrophysics tools

  • GeoTek Multi-Scanner Core Logger measuring density, p-wave, resistivity, magnetic susceptibility, natural gamma (inc. full spectra), XRF &colorimetry.
  • Optical thermal conductivity scanner – Lippmann-Raven instrument.
  • Traditional laboratory-based thermal conductivity instruments – transient source (TK04)& modified transient plane source (CThermTCi).
  • Tenney Environmental Test Chamber for ambient studies.
  • Discrete sample, P-wave and S-wave UPV instrument (Pundit-Lab).
  • Resonance Modulus Tester – Olson Instruments (RT-1).
  • Schmidt Hammer (Type L) for measuring uniaxial compressive strength.
  • Magnetic susceptibility/Conductivity meter.
  • Qmeter Magnetic Remanence meter
  • Sample preparation tools.

For more information contact the Program Manager Dr David Belton.