Mapping of shallow coastal groundwaters, their hydrology and environmental geochemistry : Pumicestone catchment, Southeast Queensland

Phan, Ha Thi Thu (2011) Mapping of shallow coastal groundwaters, their hydrology and environmental geochemistry : Pumicestone catchment, Southeast Queensland. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Blooms of the toxic cyanobacterium majuscula Lyngbya in the coastal waters of southeast Queensland have caused adverse impacts on both environmental health and human health, and on local economies such as fishing and tourism. A number of studies have confirmed that the main limiting nutrients (“nutrients of concern”) that contribute to these blooms area Fe, DOC, N, P and also pH. This study is conducted to establish the distribution of these parameters in a typical southeast Queensland coastal setting. The study maps the geochemistry of shallow groundwater in the mainland Pumicestone catchment with an emphasis on the nutrients of concern to understand how these nutrients relate to aquifer materials, landuse and anthropogenic activities. The results of the study form a GIS information layer which will be incorporated into a larger GIS model being produced by Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) to support landuse management to avoid/minimize blooms of Lyngbya in Moreton Bay, southeast Queensland, and other similar settings.

A total of 38 boreholes were established in the mainland Pumicestone region and four sampling rounds of groundwater carried out in both dry and wet conditions. These groundwater samples were measured in the field for physico-chemical parameters, and in the laboratory analyses for the nutrients of concern, and other major and minor ions. Aquifer materials were confirmed using the Geological Survey of Queensland digital geology map, and geomaterials were assigned to seven categories which are A (sands), B (silts, sandy silts), C (estuarine mud, silts), D (humid soils), E (alluvium), F (sandstone) and G (other bedrock). The results of the water chemistry were examined by use of the software package AquaChem/AqQA, and divided into six groundwater groups, based on groundwater chemical types and location of boreholes. The type of aquifer material and location, and proximity to waterways was found to be important because they affected physico-chemical properties and concentrations of nutrients of concern and dissolved ions.

The analytical results showed that iron concentrations of shallow groundwaters were high due to acid sulfate soils, and also mud and silt, but were lower in sand materials. DOC concentrations of these shallow groundwaters in the sand material were high probably due to rapid infiltration. In addition, DOC concentrations in some boreholes were high because they were installed in organic rich wetlands. The pH values of boreholes were from acidic to near neutral; some boreholes with pH values were low (< 4), showing acid sulfate soils in these boreholes. Concentrations of total nitrogen and total phosphorus of groundwaters were generally low, and the main causes of elevated concentrations of total nitrogen and total phosphorus are largely due to animal and human wastes and tend to be found in localized source areas. Comparison of the relative percentage of nitrogen species (NH3/NH4< Org-N, NO3-N and NO2-N) demonstrated that they could be related to sources such as animal waste, residential and agricultural fertilizers, forest and vegetation, mixed residents and farms, and variable setting and vegetation covers. Total concentrations of dissolved ions in sampling round 3 (dry period) were higher than those in sampling round 2 (wet period) due to both evaporation of groundwater in the dry period and the dilution of rainfall in the wet period. This showed that the highest concentrations of nutrients of concern were due to acid sulfate soils, aquifer materials, landuse and anthropogenic activities and were typically in aquifer materials of E (alluvium) and C (estuarine muds) and locations of Burpengary, Caboolture, and Glass Mountain catchments.

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ID Code: 49165
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Cox, Malcolm, Taulis, Mauricio, & Sloss, Craig
Keywords: cyanobacterium, coastal waters, southeast Queensland, Pumicestone catchment
Divisions: Past > Schools > Biogeoscience
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 15 Mar 2012 02:58
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2012 02:58

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