National Acid Sulfate Soils Guidance

National Acid Sulfate Soils Guidance - Identification and Assessment Professional Short Course

The Environmental Analysis Laboratory are offering short courses for professionals responsible for assessing and managing acid sulfate soils, in accordance with the National Acid Sulfate Soils Guidance (2018).

The program is designed for professionals such as consultants, engineers, contractors, scientists, environmental officers and planners.

The courses include a series of presentations from leading academics and practitioners, practical exercises examining real-life examples and a field excursion to local acid sulfate soil sites. The training program follows the five stages required in a full acid sulfate soil investigation process. It is designed to equip participants with the skills, knowledge and confidence to assess acid sulfate soils in a variety of landscapes. Participants should note the courses are specifically designed for professionals with at least a basic understanding of the issues.

The courses will be led by Dr Nick Ward and Graham Lancaster (and Dr Steve Appleyard when in Perth), co-authors of these national guidance documents. Leading researchers Professor Ed Burton (SCU), Emeritus Professor Leigh Sullivan (Acid Sulfate Soils Management Solutions Pty Ltd), Dr John Grant (SCU), and practitioners including Kristie Williams (Qld Department of Resources), Dr Karen Mackenzie (Land & Water Consulting), Brad Palmer (Galt Environmental), James Gibson (Western Environmental), Alan Foley (RPS), Dr Bill Richmond (WA Department of Water & Environmental Regulation), Nadia Toppler (EAL), Dr Dave Morand (NSW Department of Planning and Environment) and Troy Shepherd (EAL), experienced in the identification and assessment of acid sulfate soil materials, have also helped deliver these courses.

The next course is being delivered at the Mercure Hotel in Perth, Western Australia on 19–20 September 2024. We have also scheduled another course at Southern Cross University's Gold Coast campus for 24–25 October 2024. The courses cost $1500 (excluding GST); a student price of $1400 (excluding GST) is also available. Early bird tickets can be obtained at $1400 if paid in advance. Places are limited to approximately 30 participants per course. Please register interest to secure a place on the Perth and Gold Coast courses.


Short courses

This course has now run nine times since 2019 to positive reviews:

“Presenters were well educated and knowledgeable on ASS but were good at communicating the science and legislation. I originally thought it was a bit expensive but after attending the course it is good value for money!”

“Having people from labs, unis, regulators and consultants made for many different views which was helpful. The calculations were also very useful!”

“Quality technical and practical course.”

“The course was well presented with great content. Will be requesting others from my team attend future sessions."

"Thank you so much for a very informative course. Learnt lots! Will be in contact with you as questions come up."

Course Overview

Day 1: Introduction to acid sulfate soils and the new national guidance documents for identification and sampling

The first day covers the issue of acid sulfate soils: what they are, where they exist and why they are important to manage. The implications of the new National Acid Sulfate Soils Guidance on assessment of these materials is discussed. The process of desktop assessment and sampling is examined.

A field excursion to local acid sulfate soil sites will demonstrate appropriate techniques for sampling acid sulfate soil materials.

Day 2: Laboratory assessment, using the new national guidance documents, and management of acid sulfate soil materials

The second day examines the use of laboratory assessment of acid sulfate soil materials and the reporting of Net Acidity. A practical exercise on interpreting the results of field and laboratory analysis will include calculating an acid base account and liming requirements. Management options will be outlined for acid sulfate soil materials where disturbance is unavoidable. An overview and management of monosulfidic black ooze (MBO) accumulations in waterways and wetlands will also be provided.

Dr Nicholas Ward


Dr Nick Ward

Dr Nick Ward is a Technical Team Leader at the Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL) and coordinates the acid sulfate soil testing section. Nick is co-author of a number of the 2018 National acid sulfate soil guidance documents. He first got involved with acid sulfate soils in 1998 when he started a PhD examining the process of sulfide oxidation in these materials.

Nick has been involved in a number of projects assessing the potential hazard acid sulfate soil materials pose in wetlands, channel systems and lakes in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Further details

Professor Ed Burton

Professor Ed Burton

Professor Ed Burtonis is a Research Fellow in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University. Ed’s research focuses on how mineral evolution controls the mobility and fate of various elements in soils, sediments and groundwater systems (including acid sulfate soil landscapes). He has a specific interest in the redox cycling of iron and sulfur, and how this affects trace metals and metalloids (with a recent focus on arsenic, antimony and chromium). Ed is highly published in the field of acid sulfate soil research.

Graham Lancaster

Graham Lancaster

Graham Lancaster founded the Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL), Southern Cross University in 1992. He is now the Senior Manager, Commercial & Research Operations, Southern Cross Analytical Research Services (SCARS) at the University. Graham is a co-author of a number of the 2018 National acid sulfate soil guidance documents and has been highly involved in the laboratory assessment of acid sulfate soils since the mid-1990s. He also has an interest in acid sulfate soils research, environmental contamination, and Biological and Organic Farming in relation to soil management and sustainable agricultural practices.

Further details


Nadia Toppler

Nadia is the Technical Manager at the he Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL), Southern Cross University. Nadia has previously been the coordinator of the acid sulfate soil and physical soil testing sections, and is co-author of a number of the 2018 National acid sulfate soil guidance documents. Nadia completed an honours degree in acid sulfate soil chemistry at the University of New South Wales and undertook PhD studies at Southern Cross University.

Further details

A photograph of David Morand

Dr Dave Morand, CPSS

Dr Dave Morand, CPSS is a Senior Scientist in the Land and Soil Assessment team at the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in Alstonville. He has also worked on soil surveys of the United Arab Emirates. Dave has been a soil scientist with the NSW government since 1990 and is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS). Dave has undertaken acid sulfate soil risk and hazard mapping, including assessment of inland acid sulfate soils of the Murray/Murrumbidgee. For his PhD he examined the pedology and geomorphology of the Northern Rivers catchments in north-eastern NSW.

Further details