Paired geochemical tracing and load monitoring analysis for identifying sediment sources in a large catchment draining into the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon

Furuichi, Takahisa, Olley, Jon, Wilkinson, Scott, Lewis, Stephen, Bainbridge, Zoe, and Burton, Joanne (2016) Paired geochemical tracing and load monitoring analysis for identifying sediment sources in a large catchment draining into the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon. Geomorphology, 266. pp. 41-52.

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While sediment tracing has been typically applied to identify sediment sources that are difficult to measure by gauging (monitoring), it can also be useful in estimating relative sediment yields from gauged river catchments. The major and trace element composition of river sediments from eleven locations in the 130000 km2 Burdekin River catchment, northeastern Australia was analysed to examine relative contributions from upstream source areas in the 2011/12water year. Sediment tracing results are compared against estimates derived fromsediment load monitoring at three locations. Comparisons show that there is good agreement between tracing results and monitoring data at one of the tributary confluences. At the second site, notable contrastswere found between the load estimates from the monitoring and tracing data. At this site a large impoundment occurs between the upstream sampling/gauging sites for source sediments and the downstream sampling/gauging sites for target sediments. The contrast is likely caused by temporal variations in particle size distributions of suspended sediment fromeach river and differential trapping efficiencies in the impoundment for sediment derived fromthe different tributaries. In the absence of the detailed particle size data and trapping efficiency estimates, sediment tracing provides the unique opportunity to elucidate source contributions of the finer fractions of suspended sediment. At a third site, where there were recognised measurement gaps in the monitoring data during large discharge events, the relative load estimates fromthe tracing data provided a means of constraining the recognized uncertainty of monitored load estimates.We conclude that sediment tracing can be used as a valuable adjunct to monitoring data particularly in remote, large and data-sparse catchments. Both tracing results and monitoring data showthat the Upper Burdekin River and Bowen-Bogie Riverswere the dominant source of the b10 μm sediments being delivered to the GBR lagoon from the Burdekin River catchment in the 2011/12 water year. More substantial contribution from the Belyando-Suttor Rivers indicated by the tracing results than the monitoring data is attributed to preferential delivery of the 1–10 μm sediments through the impoundment and has uncovered a knowledge gap in sediment budgets in the catchment.

Item ID: 45072
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-695X
Keywords: sediment tracing, sediment load monitoring, Burdekin River, Great Barrier Reef
Funders: Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (QDEHP)
Projects and Grants: QDEHP RP65G
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2016 02:46
FoR Codes: 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3703 Geochemistry > 370302 Inorganic geochemistry @ 35%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410406 Natural resource management @ 35%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3709 Physical geography and environmental geoscience > 370901 Geomorphology and earth surface processes @ 30%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 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 > 9614 Soils > 961401 Coastal and Estuarine Soils @ 30%
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