Hydrogeology and groundwater flow model, central catchment of Bribie Island, Southeast Queensland

Jackson, Joanne M. (2007) Hydrogeology and groundwater flow model, central catchment of Bribie Island, Southeast Queensland. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Bribie Island is a large, heterogeneous, sand barrier island that contains groundwater aquifers of commercial and environmental significance. Population growth has resulted in expanding residential developments and consequently increased demand for water. Caboolture Shire Council (CSC) has proposed to increase groundwater extraction by a new borefield. Two aquifers exist within the Quaternary sandmass which are separated by an indurated sand layer that is ubiquitous in the area. A shallow aquifer occurs in the surficial, clean sands and is perched on the indurated sands. Water levels in the shallow water table aquifer follow the topography and groundwater occurs under unconfined conditions in this system. A basal aquifer occurs beneath the indurated sands, which act as a semi-confining layer in the island system. The potentiometric surface of the basal aquifer occurs as a gentle groundwater mound. The shallow groundwater system supports water-dependent ecosystems including wetlands, native woodlands and commercial pine plantations. Excessive groundwater extraction could lower the water table in the shallow aquifer to below the root depth of vegetation on the island. Groundwater discharge along the coastline is essential to maintain the position of the saline water - fresh groundwater boundary in this island aquifer system. Any activity that changes the volume of fresh water discharge or lowers the water table or potentiometric surface below sea level will result in a consequent change in the saline water – freshwater interface and could lead to saline water intrusion. Groundwater level data was compared with the residual rainfall mass curve (RRMC) on hydrographs, which revealed that the major trends in groundwater levels are related to rainfall. Bribie Island has a sub-tropical climate, with a mean annual rainfall of around 1358mm/year (Bongaree station). Mean annual pan evaporation is around 1679mm/year and estimates of the potential evapotranspiration rates range from 1003 to 1293mm/year. Flows from creeks, the central swale and groundwater discharged from the area have the potential to affect water quality within the tidal estuary, Pumicestone Passage. Groundwater within the island aquifer system is fresh with electrical conductivity ranging from 61 to 1018ìS/cm while water near the coast, canals or tidal creeks is brackish to saline (1596 to 34800ìS/cm). Measurements of pH show that all groundwater is acidic to slightly acidic (3.3-6.6), the lower values are attributed to the breakdown of plant material into organic acids. Groundwater is dominated by Na-Cl type water, which is expected in a coastal island environment with Na-Cl rainfall. Some groundwater samples possess higher concentrations of calcium and bicarbonate ions, which could be due to chemical interactions with buried shell beds while water is infiltrating to depth and due to the longer residence times of groundwater in the basal aquifer. A steady-state, sub-regional groundwater flow model was developed using the Visual MODFLOW computer package. The 4 layer, flow model simulated the existing hydrogeological system and the dominant groundwater processes controlling groundwater flow. The numerical model was calibrated against existing data and returned reasonable estimates of groundwater levels and hydraulic parameters. The model illustrated that: .. The primary source of groundwater recharge is infiltration of rainfall for the upper, perched aquifer (Layer 1). Recharge for the lower sand layers is via vertical leakage from the upper, perched aquifer, through the indurated sands (Layers 2 and 3) to the semi-confined, basal aquifer (Layer 4). .. The dominant drainage processes on Bribie Island are evapotranspiration (15070m3/day) and groundwater seepage from the coast, canals and tidal creeks (9512m3/day). Analytical calculations using Darcy’s Law estimated that approximately 8000m3/day of groundwater discharges from central Bribie Island, approximately 16% less than the model. .. As groundwater flows preferentially toward the steepest hydraulic gradient, the main direction of horizontal groundwater flow is expected to be along an eastwest axis, towards either the central swale or the coastline. The central swale was found to act as a groundwater sink in the project area.

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ID Code: 18347
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Cox, Malcolm & Turner, Ian
Keywords: hydrogeology, groundwater, flow model, central catchment, Bribie Island, Southeast Queensland
Divisions: Past > Schools > Biogeoscience
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 26 Feb 2009 03:09
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:52

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