To provide a clearer understanding of any environmental impacts caused by coal seam gas production in the Camden area, NSW Mining, Exploration and Geoscience together with Geoscience Australia carried out a project monitoring seismic activity and subsidence in and around the Camden Gas Project from 2015 to 2019.

The Camden site is currently the only gas-producing region in NSW and accommodates a variety of land uses such as agricultural, industrial, commercial and residential. The five-year project monitored any indications of increased seismic activity and ground subsidence (downward surface movement) as a result of gas production.

Seismic monitoring project

Five new seismic monitoring stations were established – three near the Camden gas field and two north-west of Sydney – and found no evidence of higher rates of seismicity due to coal seam gas activities between 2015 and 2019.

Download the full seismic monitoring project report from the Geoscience Australia website.

Subsidence monitoring project

A network of 20 ground positioning monitoring sites was established to validate satellite measurements in the area. Data collected from the sites together with satellite imagery confirmed no measurable subsidence was detected as a result of coal seam gas extraction in the Camden Gas Project during 2006-2010 and 2015-2019.

Download the full subsidence monitoring project report from the Geoscience Australia website.

Frequently asked questions

The Final Report of the Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW issued by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer in September 2014 recommended monitoring of potential ground surface subsidence or seismic activity caused by coal seam gas extraction.

The NSW Government initiated the Camden Environmental Monitoring Project to monitor AGL’s Camden Gas Project for ground surface subsidence or increased seismic activity.

AGL’s Camden Gas Project was chosen for the study because it was the state’s only producing CSG project at the time.

NSW Mining, Exploration and Geoscience collaborated with Geoscience Australia to undertake the project.

The Camden Environmental Monitoring Project found there was no evidence of increased seismic activity or measurable subsidence due to coal seam gas production within the Camden coal seam gas field during the time of monitoring.

Seismic monitoring – five new seismic monitoring stations were added to Geoscience Australia’s existing network in the Camden area to detect any seismic events down to magnitude two.

The stations were located at the Mount Annan Botanic Gardens, Wilton Park, Cattai, Yarramundi and Oakdale.

Each station consisted of a buried vault containing a seismometer to measure motion and an accelerometer to measure force together with a digitiser, battery power supply and mobile phone network modem.

Real time data was continuously streamed to Geoscience Australia’s National Earthquake Alerts Centre, where it was combined with other activities monitoring earthquakes and seismic activity.

Subsidence monitoring – remote satellite radar monitoring techniques were used to map ground surface subsidence. The “InSAR” technique is a precise and non-invasive method of detecting changes in the height of the Earth’s surface, within millimetres.

Images were captured every 12 days over two four-year periods, from 2006 to 2010 and from 2015 to 2019, by satellites orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 800 kilometres. Scientific analysis of the images was carried out to detect any changes in the position of the Earth’s surface over the two periods of time.

A new network of 20 ground geodetic monitoring sites was established in May/June 2016 for the purpose of validating measurements made using InSAR. GPS data was collected between July 2016 and June 2019 and used to measure any ground movement.

Subsidence is the vertical downward movement of the Earth’s surface, caused by natural processes or human activities.

Induced seismicity refers to seismic events that are a result of human activity.

The findings of the Camden Environmental Monitoring Project are specific to the area in and around the Camden Gas Project in the Sydney Basin.

Similar monitoring would need to be conducted to determine if coal seam gas activities caused subsidence or increased seismicity in other locations.

The results of the Camden Environmental Monitoring Project provide local communities in the Camden area and surrounds with an assurance that coal seam gas extraction activities at the Camden Gas field do not cause subsidence or seismic activity.

The local communities can have greater confidence that their properties, homes and businesses are not being negatively impacted by coal seam gas activities.

The project has also proven that the InSAR satellite radar monitoring technique used to monitor subsidence at the Camden Gas field is effective. There is potential for this technique to be rolled out across the state and nationally to monitor subsidence impacts of current and future mining operations and any future coal seam gas activities.