Groundwater pathways for nutrient and pesticide transport to the Great Barrier Reef

This is a program of research with a focus on “groundwater pathways for nutrient and pesticide transport to the Great Barrier Reef”. Through a suite of postgraduate research projects, funded by the Queensland Government and CSIRO, researchers have been addressing key knowledge gaps in water quality monitoring. The focus of these projects is investigating the factors controlling nitrogen attenuation. The field sites are located within sugarcane growing regions, in three different Great Barrier Reef catchments (the Lower Burdekin, the Lower Johnstone and the Mulgrave catchments). The methods that have been adopted in these studies include: analyses of the isotopic composition of nitrate, analyses of groundwater geochemistry, sediment analyses, unsaturated zone monitoring, column studies and microbiological analyses. As part of these projects, Dr Lucy Reading has been successful in bringing a novel monitoring technology to Australia. The first “Vadose Zone Monitoring System” was installed in Australia at a Queensland Government “paddock to reef” monitoring site, to allow real-time monitoring of water and solute transport from the ground surface to the groundwater table.

Chief Investigators

Trees and grass in the foreground with a beach in the background. Kurrimine Beach pictured