Saving Our River Land Resources

Global geophysics experts are joining Flinders University in a major new groundwater project funded by the Australian Research Council.

Dr Eddie Banks conducting scientific research on the river.

Water extraction, weir flow management and drought has forever altered the Murray River’s ability to sustain healthy wetlands, popular camping sites, floodplain vegetation and animal habitats.

Maximising the benefits of environmental water and identifying critical changes in floodplain salinity and shallow groundwater is the focus of the new ARC Industry Fellowship Program project led by Flinders University hydrogeologist Dr Eddie Banks.

The $1.07m ARC Mid-Career Industry Fellowship will drive advancements in hydrogeophysics – the systems which quantifies and raises understanding of shallow subsurface water processes and properties – to help ‘future-proof’ groundwater which accounts for more than 30% of Australia’s total water use.

“This study includes the development of effective hydrogeophysical assessment techniques to examine the impacts of shallow saline groundwater to floodplain vegetation, including our majestic river red gums, bird and fish habitats and biodiversity, which will help to improve water management and conservation of the Lower Murray floodplains,” says Dr Banks, from the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training based at the College of Science and Engineering at Flinders University.

“Our multidisciplinary team will use hydro-geophysical methods to complement remote sensing, drone-based and traditional techniques to create a more comprehensive picture of spatial and temporal changes in the subsurface environment.”

The industry research collaboration, under the new ‘Flinders Hydrogeophysical Node’, includes other Flinders University scientists and experts from WA-based Loupe Geophysics Pty Ltd, Vista Clara in the US and Australia’s CSIRO, which will provide additional financial and in-kind support for the $2.8 million project over the next four years.

Dr Banks says project is a significant opportunity for researchers and industry experts to make a major impact on improving management of groundwater resources, including more sustainable, effective and less invasive practices for these previous ‘hidden’ resources which local environments rely on to survive and thrive – particularly when the Murray Darling Basin is affected by drought.

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