Protecting wetlands from underground mining impacts

phys.org | 3/25/2019 | Staff
samtetley (Posted by) Level 3
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UNSW Engineers want to learn more about the impact of coal mining on wetlands—before and after mining occurs.

What happens to a swamp (wetland) when you dig a longwall coal mine beneath it? The evidence suggests that on many occasions the water disappears and the wetland can dry up, but until now there has been a hole in the research about the processes that contribute to this. It is into this hole that Katarina David has jumped.

Dr - Katarina - David - Team - Research

Dr. Katarina David says the team initiated the research because they were deeply concerned about a series of incidents in the Southern Highlands of NSW where longwall mining was seemingly causing big problems with the water table, creeks and wetlands. She says that although research teams were mobilised to monitor and try to save the wetlands after the problems started, what was missing was information about the baseline condition of a wetland before the mine went in.

"I became really interested in improving our ability to predict the hydrological response of a swamp to natural or human influences by gathering information about how the groundwater behaves before any changes occur," says David, a Lecturer in the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering at UNSW.

Research - Team - Professor - Wendy - Timms

Assembling a top-class research team (that includes Professor Wendy Timms, formally in UNSW Mining Engineering and now at Deakin University, Dr. Cath Hughes and Dr. Jagoda Crawford from ANSTO (Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation), Dayna McGeeney formally in UNSW's Water Research Laboratory and Professor Andy Baker from UNSW Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences), David says the project began in 2016 as part of her post-doctoral research. The team chose an area where a longwall coal mine was planned, and took a series of samples from three naturally intact wetland systems before any mining activity started.

"We decided to apply the stable isotope...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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