Frequently Asked Questions

National Aquifer Framework

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What is the National Aquifer Framework?

The National Aquifer Framework is the first nationally agreed system for naming and grouping similar hydrogeologic units in Australia.

Each State and Territory uses their own terminology to describe hydrogeologic units and these differences cause many difficulties, especially for groundwater basins that span multiple jurisdictions.

The framework standardises terminology that is entered into the system by State and Territory water agencies so that data is nationally consistent.

How was the framework developed?

Sinclair Knight Merz and the Bureau of Meteorology developed the framework by first collating and reviewing existing hydrogeologic unit information including:

  • jurisdictional aquifer frameworks;
  • Geoscience Australia’s Stratigraphic Unit Database;
  • Geoscience Australia’s Surface Geology of Australia (1:1 million scale); and
  • other information such as the Great Artesian Basin Water Resources Assessment.

Extensive consultation was then undertaken and this included stakeholder workshops in each jurisdiction. The resulting draft framework was reviewed extensively by the Bureau, Geoscience Australia and lead water agencies in each jurisdiction before the framework’s release.

For further information please read the National Aquifer Framework Development Report.

How often will the framework be updated?

The framework will be updated annually following the submission of any updated jurisdictional frameworks to the Bureau.

How does the framework relate to the National Groundwater Information System?

Lead water agencies in each State and Territory enter data into the National Groundwater Information System using their jurisdictional terminology. The Bureau then applies the framework terminology to the datasets to ensure that information is nationally consistent.

How does the framework relate to Geoscience Australia's Stratigraphic Unit Database and Surface Geology Mapping?

Geoscience Australia's Stratigraphic Unit Database and Surface Geology of Australia (1:1 million scale) have been used as the basis for the geologic units, which are the first and smallest tier in the framework.

How does the framework relate to jurisdictional aquifer frameworks?

Each State and Territory uses its own terminology to describe hydrogeologic units. Some jurisdictions such as Victoria and Queensland have formal aquifer frameworks. The National Aquifer Framework has established links to each of the jurisdictional frameworks so that jurisdictional terminology can be converted into nationally consistent terminology and visa versa. In general, the jurisdictional frameworks are more detailed than the National Aquifer Framework.

Is the framework available as a map?

The framework does not include any spatial datasets rather it is available as a series of tables. However the framework is used to standardise the hydrogeologic unit terminology within the National Groundwater Information System e.g. to describe the hydrogeologic units monitored or pumped by bores and the hydrogeologic units in hydrostratigraphy logs. The National Groundwater Information System also includes 3D representations of the hydrogeologic units for several case study areas, including the State of Victoria, the Daly Basin (Northern Territory) and eight sedimentary basins in Western Australia. The National Groundwater Information System is not currently available online but can be provided on request by contacting groundwater@bom.gov.au

Can I provide feedback on the framework?

The Bureau is interested in receiving feedback on the framework, particularly regarding any issues that users may be experiencing with specific units. Feedback can be provided using the Bureau's feedback page.


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