Fine-suspended sediment and water budgets for a large, seasonally dry tropical catchment: Burdekin River catchment, Queensland, Australia

Bainbridge, Zöe T., Lewis, Stephen E., Smithers, Scott G., Kuhnert, Petra M., Henderson, Brent L., and Brodie, Jon E. (2014) Fine-suspended sediment and water budgets for a large, seasonally dry tropical catchment: Burdekin River catchment, Queensland, Australia. Water Resources Research, 50 (11). pp. 9067-9087.

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View at Publisher Website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2013WR014386
 
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Abstract

The Burdekin River catchment (~130,400 km2) is a seasonally dry tropical catchment located in north-east Queensland, Australia. It is the single largest source of suspended sediment to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Fine sediments are a threat to ecosystems on the GBR where they contribute to elevated turbidity (reduced light), sedimentation stress, and potential impacts from the associated nutrients. Suspended sediment data collected over a 5 year period were used to construct a catchment-wide sediment source and transport budget. The Bowen River tributary was identified as the major source of end-of-river suspended sediment export, yielding an average of 530 t km−2 yr−1 during the study period. Sediment trapping within a large reservoir (1.86 million ML) and the preferential transport of clays and fine silts downstream of the structure were also examined. The data reveal that the highest clay and fine silt loads—which are of most interest to environmental managers of the GBR—are not always sourced from areas that yield the largest total suspended sediment load (i.e., all size fractions). Our results demonstrate the importance of incorporating particle size into catchment sediment budget studies undertaken to inform management decisions to reduce downstream turbidity and sedimentation. Our data on sediment source, reservoir influence, and subcatchment and catchment yields will improve understandings of sediment dynamics in other tropical catchments, particularly those located in seasonally wet-dry tropical savannah/semiarid climates. The influence of climatic variability (e.g., drought/wetter periods) on annual sediment loads within large seasonally dry tropical catchments is also demonstrated by our data.

Item ID: 36518
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: fine sediment; sediment budget; semi arid; Great Barrier Reef; terrestrial runoff
Additional Information:

© 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Further reproduction or electronic distribution is not permitted.

ISSN: 1944-7973
Funders: North Queensland Dry Tropics, Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility, JCU/CSIRO Tropical Landscapes Joint Venture
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2014 04:04
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 35%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 35%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050399 Soil Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960903 Coastal and Estuarine Water Management @ 35%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961102 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 35%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960904 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management @ 30%
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