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Assessment of flood-related recharge to alluvial aquifers of an irrigated catchment following extended drought conditions using 3D visualisation and environmental tracers, Lockyer Valley, southeast Queensland, Australia.

Raiber, Matthias, Cox, Malcolm, Taulis, Mauricio, Hawke, Amy, & James, Allan (2011) Assessment of flood-related recharge to alluvial aquifers of an irrigated catchment following extended drought conditions using 3D visualisation and environmental tracers, Lockyer Valley, southeast Queensland, Australia. In 50th Jubilee New Zealand Hydrological Society Conference 2011 - Learning from the Past-Creating the Future, New Zealand Hydrological Society, Wellington, N. Z, p. 139.

Abstract

The Lockyer Valley in southeast Queensland, Australia, hosts an economically significant alluvial aquifer system which has been impacted by prolonged drought conditions (~1997 to ~ 2009). Throughout this time, the system was under continued groundwater extraction, resulting in severe aquifer depletion. By 2008, much of the aquifer was at <30% of storage but some relief occurred with rains in early 2009. However, between December 2010 and January 2011, most of southeast Queensland experienced unprecedented flooding, which generated significant aquifer recharge. In order to understand the spatial and temporal controls of groundwater recharge in the alluvium, a detailed 3D lithological property model of gravels, sands and clays was developed using GOCAD software. The spatial distribution of recharge throughout the catchment was assessed using hydrograph data from about 400 groundwater observation wells screened at the base of the alluvium. Water levels from these bores were integrated into a catchment-wide 3D geological model using the 3D geological modelling software GOCAD; the model highlights the complexity of recharge mechanisms. To support this analysis, groundwater tracers (e.g. major and minor ions, stable isotopes, 3H and 14C) were used as independent verification. The use of these complementary methods has allowed the identification of zones where alluvial recharge primarily occurs from stream water during episodic flood events. However, the study also demonstrates that in some sections of the alluvium, rainfall recharge and discharge from the underlying basement into the alluvium are the primary recharge mechanisms of the alluvium. This is indicated by the absence of any response to the flood, as well as the observed old radiocarbon ages and distinct basement water chemistry signatures at these locations. Within the 3D geological model, integration of water chemistry and time-series displays of water level surfaces before and after the flood suggests that the spatial variations of the flood response in the alluvium are primarily controlled by the valley morphology and lithological variations within the alluvium. The integration of time-series of groundwater level surfaces in the 3D geological model also enables the quantification of the volumetric change of groundwater stored in the unconfined sections of this alluvial aquifer during drought and following flood events. The 3D representation and analysis of hydraulic and recharge information has considerable advantages over the traditional 2D approach. For example, while many studies focus on singular aspects of catchment dynamics and groundwater-surface water interactions, the 3D approach is capable of integrating multiple types of information (topography, geological, hydraulic, water chemistry and spatial) into a single representation which provides valuable insights into the major factors controlling aquifer processes.

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ID Code: 53111
Item Type: Conference Paper
Keywords: groundwater recharge, alluvium, Lockyer Valley
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > GEOCHEMISTRY (040200) > Inorganic Geochemistry (040202)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > GEOCHEMISTRY (040200) > Isotope Geochemistry (040203)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > OTHER EARTH SCIENCES (049900) > Earth Sciences not elsewhere classified (049999)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 please consult the authors
Deposited On: 16 Aug 2012 16:18
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2013 01:06

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