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In 1952 gravity and magnetic surveys were conducted in the Koumac area on the main island and a geochemical survey was completed on the Gouaro anticline on the west coast south of Koumac, northwest of Noumea.
Oil shows were found in fractured igneous rocks near Koumac in 1953 in 4 shallow wells. Gas and oil shows were then reportedly encountered in 2 wells drilled by the French on the Gouaro anticline in 1953 and 1954. The shows were in a flysch-like series of beds of Lower Eocene age. No further wells have been drilled in the territory and no production has been achieved or is forecast by Globalshift.
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New Caledonia is a fragment of Gondwana which separated from Australia in the Early Tertiary. Prior to separation, during the Permian to Early Cretaceous, subduction was occurring along the southeastern Gondwana margin. New Caledonia was then located in a fore-arc region along which volcanic-arc sediments accumulated. Accretion and subduction of oceanic and terrigenous material created an accretionary complex that metamorphosed into a blueschist facies.
During the Late Cretaceous to Eocene rifting isolated New Caledonia. After a period of shallow water terrigenous sedimentation associated with minor volcanic activity, only pelagic sediments accumulated.
A new northeast dipping line of subduction appeared to the east of New Caledonia at the end of the Palaeocene creating another blueschist complex as the eastern Australian Plate was consumed. This activity ended with Late Eocene obduction as the Norfolk Ridge blocked the subduction zone. Finally, post-Eocene uplift caused the islands to take on their current shape.
The islands are thus comprised of glaucophane schists and extensive outcrops of basalt including widespread deposits of nickel and chromite found on the lateritic surfaces of the ultrabasic rocks. Iron ores are also present with minor deposits of copper, gold, and other metals within the glaucophane schists.
Although there have been some reports of oil and gas shows in flysch sediments and in fractured igneous rocks, Globalshift considers the islands and surrounding waters to have no commercial oil and gas potential due to a lack of reservoir development. The complex structural history would probably have breached any older fields.