Quantifying the environmental impact of a major coal mine project on the adjacent Great Barrier Reef ecosystems

Saint-Amand, A., Grech, A., Choukroun, S., and Hanert, E. (2022) Quantifying the environmental impact of a major coal mine project on the adjacent Great Barrier Reef ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 179. 113656.

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Abstract

A major coal mine project in Queensland, Australia, is currently under review. It is planned to be located about 10 km away from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA). Sediment dispersal patterns and their impact on marine ecosystems have not been properly assessed yet. Here, we simulate the dispersal of different sediment types with a high-resolution ocean model, and derive their environmental footprint. We show that sediments finer than 32 μm could reach dense seagrass meadows and a dugong sanctuary within a few weeks. The intense tidal circulation leads to non-isotropic and long-distance sediment dispersal patterns along the coast. Our results suggest that the sediments released by this project will not be quickly mixed but rather be concentrated where the most valuable ecosystems are located. If accepted, this coal mine could therefore have a far-reaching impact on the GBRWHA and its iconic marine species.

Item ID: 73640
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-3363
Keywords: Great Barrier Reef; Coal mine; Sediments; Environmental footprint; Seagrass; High-resolution ocean model
Copyright Information: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Research Data: https://forge.uclouvain.be/asaintamand/cqc_styx_slim, https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/U8735, https://git.immc.ucl.ac.be/slim/slim
Date Deposited: 31 May 2022 23:20
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4105 Pollution and contamination > 410504 Surface water quality processes and contaminated sediment assessment @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 40%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180505 Measurement and assessment of marine water quality and condition @ 20%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180506 Oceanic processes (excl. in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean) @ 40%
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