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Groundwater research assesses springs complex

Sustainability Matters

March 17, 2020

A three-year Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project will look to conserve the delicate balance of water flow through the Doongmabulla Springs Complex (DSC) in the Carmichael Basin in Queensland.

Led by Professor Adrian Werner — hydrogeologist and founding member of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training at Flinders University — experts in aquifer and groundwater springs will use computer modelling and techniques such as hydraulic heads and isotope analysis to investigate the source aquifer and fate of discharge from the DSC.

“This iconic wetlands area is maintained by complex relationships between underlying aquifers and surface conditions, leading to high uncertainties in understanding and managing the aquifer–spring–wetland hydrology,” Professor Werner said.

“The results will inform the spring’s vulnerability to development pressures and climate effects.”

Professor Werner explained that the Doongmabulla desert oasis acts as an ‘ecological island’ that supports valuable arid and semi-arid plants and wildlife.

“Despite being small in area, this spring and groundwater discharge is very important for the ecology and habitat of many specialised organisms — similar to other examples around Australia, many of which are under environment stress due to climate change,” he said.

In collaboration with conservation group Business Services of Coast and Country, the project will receive funding of $340,357 matched by the participating organisations. The chief investigators are Professor Werner, Derec Davies (Business Services of Coast and Country), Dr Dylan Irvine and Dr Eddie Banks (Flinders University), Dr Matthew Currell (RMIT University), Dr John Webb (La Trobe University), Professor Ian Cartwright (Monash University) and Dr Rod Fensham (University of Queensland, Queensland Herbarium).

Image ©Flinders University

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Water Quality & Water Pollution