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Posted 7 January 2015
Part of the fractured rock borefield at the UNSW Wellington Field Station.
A number of advances in our understanding of the timing and rate of unsaturated zone infiltration were made during 2014, thanks to the NCRIS infrastructure at Wellington in central-west NSW.
Wellington is part of the national groundwater infrastructure network, funded by the Australian Federal Government and managed by the Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre (CWI).
At Wellington, infrastructure is installed in three contrasting geologies, and long-term monitoring of groundwater level and climate is helping researchers improve their understanding of groundwater processes. At Baldry, long-term groundwater monitoring is occurring in a fractured-rock granite system. At Wellington Caves, groundwater level and unsaturated zone water flux are being monitored in a karstified, fractured limestone system. At the UNSW Wellington field station, groundwater level and water quality is being monitored in fractured rock metasedimentary and alluvial systems.
With sites established in 2010-2013, several years of groundwater level, water quality and climate data are now available to researchers. Data can be visualized and downloaded from http://groundwater.anu.edu.au.
In 2014, researchers published the following international peer-reviewed papers based on the NCRIS Wellington sites:
Four years of infiltration water measurements at ~30m depth at Cathedral Cave, Wellington.
At Wellington Caves, the NCRIS infrastructure has improved our understanding of the timing and rate of unsaturated zone infiltration. This in turn has allowed researchers to understand ancillary experiments to probe other hydrogeological and environmental processes. In particular, part of the Cathedral Cave monitoring site has undergone artificial rainfall experiments (see here). Mark Cuthbert and co-workers used these experiment to investigate the cooling of infiltration waters within the unsaturated zone due to evaporation, and Helen Rutlidge and co-workers investigated the organic and inorganic chemistry of the infiltration waters. The results are published in the journals Scientific Reports (open access at http://www.nature.com/srep/2014/140604/srep05162/full/srep05162.html ) and Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta respectively.
Ajami, H., Evans J.P., McCabe, M.F. and Stisen, S., 2014. Technical Note: Reducing the spin-up time of integrated surface water–groundwater models. Hydrology and Earth System Science, 18, 5169-5179.
Cuthbert, M.O., Baker, A., Jex, C.N., Graham, P.W., Treble, P., Andersen, M.S and Acworth, R.I., 2014 Drip water isotopes in semi-arid karst: implications for speleothem paleoclimatology. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 395, 194-204.
Cuthbert, M.O., Rau, G.C., Andersen, M.S., Roshan, H., Rutlidge, H., Marjo, C.E., Markowska, M., Jex, C.N., Graham, P.W., Mariethoz, G., Acworth, R.I., Baker, A. 2014. Evaporative cooling of speleothems. Scientific Reports, 4, Article number: 5162
Graham, P.W., Andersen, M.S., McCabe, M.F., Ajami, H., Baker, A. and Acworth, R.I., 2014. To what extent do long-duration high-volume dam releases influence river–aquifer interactions? A case study in New South Wales, Australia. Hydrogeology Journal, doi: 10.1007/s10040-014-1212-3
Rutlidge, H., Baker, A., Marjo, C.E., Andersen, M.S., Graham, P., Cuthbert, M.O., Rau, G.C., Roshan, H., Markowska, M., Mariethoz, G., Jex, C.N., 2014. Dripwater organic matter and trace element geochemistry in a semi-arid karst environment: implications for speleothem paleoclimatology. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 135, 217-230.
Dr Wendy Timms was recently appointed to the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC).
Contributions from the CWI team feature in a new open access book that is among the first to cover hydrogeology, sustainable development, water policy, governance, and management.
Outcomes of the recent meeting of water law specialists hosted by the UNSW Faculty of Law and the Connected Waters Research Initiative Research Centre (CWI) have been brought together in a special issue of Environmental Planning and Law Journal (EPLJ).