Experts in aquifer and groundwater springs are pumping their energy into conserving the delicate balance of water flow through the environmentally important Doongmabulla Springs Complex (DSC) in the Carmichael Basin in Queensland.
Flinders University hydrogeologist Professor Adrian Werner is leading a new $340,357 Australian Government ARC Linkage Project with conservation group, Business Services of Coast and Country, Inc.
“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,” says chief investigator Professor Werner, who last year gave expert advice to the Queensland Government during deliberations on the nearby Adani coal mine.
“We will use computer modelling and multiple techniques such as geophysics, hydraulic heads and isotope analysis to investigate the source aquifer, and fate of discharge from the DSC, which is located in an area of future development.
“The results will inform the spring’s vulnerability to development pressures and climate effects.”
The Doongmabulla desert oasis acts as an ‘ecological island’ which supports valuable arid and semi-arid plants and wildlife, says Professor Werner, a founding member of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training at Flinders University.
“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.”
Chief investigators of the project are ARC Future Fellow Professor Werner, Mr Derec Davies (Business Services of Coast and Country, Inc), Dr Dylan Irvine and Dr Eddie Banks (Flinders University), Dr Matthew Currell (RMIT University), Dr John Webb (La Trobe), Professor Ian Cartwright (Monash), Dr Rod Fensham (University of Queensland, Queensland Herbarium).
The three-year ARC Linkage project (LP190100713) will receive funding of $340,357 matched by the participating organisations.