Oral Presentation Australasian Groundwater Conference 2017

Interdisciplinary insights into the Lake Eyre Basin (#28)

Mark N Keppel 1 , Daniel Wohling 1 , Catherine Miles , Travis Gotch 1
  1. South Australian Government, Adelaide, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, Australia

Interdisciplinary approaches to solving environmental and water resource science problems is the modus operandi of the Science Group within the South Australian Government Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources. This presentation provides two examples of where multiple science disciplines have come together to improve our understanding of the water sources that supports ecological communities in the Far North of South Australia.

Under the Lake Eyre Basin Water Knowledge Project, 1) the source of groundwater supporting ecologically diverse springs in two regions of SA was investigated using hydrogeological techniques combined with land-based geophysical surveys and ecological assessments and 2) the distribution and characteristics of water supporting riparian landscapes and the dependency of those ecosystems on that water source was investigated using hydrogeological and hydrological techniques, remote sensing and hydro-ecological assessments.

In these studies, we were able to investigate key knowledge gaps to provide a transparent and knowledge based vulnerability assessment on relevant spring and riparian environments. Fingerprinting water sources for vulnerable ecosystems, and ecological surveys to assess ecosystem health, significance and groundwater dependence allowed detailed conceptual hydro-ecological models to be generated for these environments.

A core challenge and focus of these studies was communication, an important component being the development of conceptual hydro-ecological models. These models explain the function and possible interactions between groundwater and groundwater dependant ecosystems and in particular provide a framework to explain how groundwater extraction may or may not impact the ecosystem.

Key outcomes included:

  • The discovery of non-Great Artesian Basin (GAB) groundwater contributing significantly to certain spring systems, and
  • Far North SA riparian environments are not completely dependent on shallow groundwater, but are capable of accessing water from a variety of sources. With further evidence showing trees move soil moisture around the root system, thus optimising the distribution and use of soil moisture.
  • We are offering awards for Career and Early Career presentations and posters. Please indicate length of time since highest degree completed.: 5 Years or more