Future of valuable wetland in focus

Experts in groundwater ecosystems are examining the mysteries of aquifer that maintain water flow through the environmentally important Doongmabulla Springs Complex (DSC) in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Flinders University hydrogeologist Professor Adrian Werner is coordinating a new $340,357 Australian Government ARC Linkage Project with natural resources group, Business Services of Coast and Country, Inc led by Mr Derec Davies.

“This iconic wetlands area is maintained by complex relationships between underlying aquifers and semi-arid 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.

“Our investigation will provide greater certainty and probity to research gaps identified by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia into the hydrogeological regime that maintains the Doongmabulla Springs Complex and local groundwater resources,” says Professor Werner, thanking the ARC for funding this important project.

“We will use computer modelling and multiple techniques such as geophysics, hydraulic heads and isotope analysis to investigate the source aquifer, and long-term fate of the Doongmabulla Springs , which is located in an area of future development.

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

Professor Werner and Flinders University PhD student Robin Keegan-Treloar at Joshua spring in the DSC.

The Doongmabulla oasis acts as an ‘ecological island’ which supports valuable arid and semi-arid plants and wildlife, says Mr Davies.

“These springs and their groundwater discharge are 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 Davies’ Queensland team, 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 $340,357 from the ARC, and funding and in-kind support from Business Services of Coast and Country Inc. and Flinders University.

Flinders Professor Adrian Werner has extensively studied the Doongmabulla Springs Complex in Queensland.
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