December news items
1st December - Freshwater remediation of acid sulfate soil wetlands receives research funding
The Australian Research Council recently announced funding for a three year Linkage project investigating the freshwater re-flooding of two large ASS wetlands in NSW – Partridge Creek and Darawakh Wetland.
The research represents a partnership between Dr Scott Johnston and Associate Professor Ed Burton of Southern Cross GeoScience at Southern Cross University, Gerard Tuckerman of Great Lakes Council and Thor Aaso from Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.
"This is a fantastic opportunity to explore what has happened to these landscapes following re-flooding" said Dr Johnston. "There has been surprisingly little research on deep re-flooding of freshwater ASS wetlands. While it appears to be a highly effective strategy for containing acidity in the landscape, there is still uncertainty about the longer term fate of acidity, iron and sulfur and the possible consequences for future water quality."
"We are intending to resolve some of these key questions and will be examining the critical role of recolonising wetland vegetation in the remediation process. Our experience and insights gained from the East Trinity sea-water re-flooding of ASS will prove useful and I suspect there might be some interesting contrasts and similarities that emerge".
12th December - Dr Scott Johnston receives prestigious ARC Future Fellowship
Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, presented Southern Cross GeoScience's Dr Scott Johnston with a prestigious ARC Future Fellowship at a recent ceremony in Canberra.
Dr Johnston received a Future Fellowship worth $709,212 to explore the controls on arsenic behaviour in coastal floodplain groundwater. The ARC's Future Fellowships aim to attract and retain the best and brightest mid-career researchers whose work is deemed of critical national importance.
Dr Johnston said more than 100 million people in south-east Asia relied on arsenic-contaminated groundwater for drinking and other domestic purposes, leading to what experts describe as one of the largest cases of mass poisoning in history.
"Arsenic is a highly toxic element found naturally in the environment. However its behaviour is poorly understood, particularly in iron-rich, coastal floodplains and lowlands with dynamic hydrology," he said.
"The problem is particularly acute in the coastal floodplains and lowlands of Asia, such as on the Ganges and Mekong deltas."
"Research undertaken by Southern Cross GeoScience has shown that when these lowlands are inundated with seawater, the iron oxides dissolve causing associated arsenic to be released into the groundwater, surrounding soil and in some cases into waterways."
For the next four years Dr Johnston's investigation will explore how arsenic behaves in complex natural environments and in the groundwater of coastal floodplains.
Updated: 20 May 2013