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  • Two sediment cores collected from beneath the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica describe the physical sedimentation patterns beneath an existing major embayed ice shelf. Core AM01b was collected from a site of basal freezing, contrasting with core AM02, collected from a site of basal melting. Both cores comprise Holocene siliceous muddy ooze (SMO), however, AM01b also recovered interbedded siliciclastic mud, sand and gravel with inclined bedding in its lower 27 cm. This interval indicates an episode of variable but strong current activity before SMO sedimentation became dominant. 14C ages corrected for old surface ages are consistent with previous dating of marine sediments in Prydz Bay. However, the basal age of AM01b of 28250 ± 230 14C yr bp probably results from greater contamination by recycled organic matter. Lithology, 14C surface ages, absolute diatom abundance, and the diatom assemblage are used as indicators of sediment transport pathways beneath the ice shelf. The transport pathways suggested from these indicators do not correspond to previous models of the basal melt/freeze pattern. This indicates that the overturning baroclinic circulation beneath the Amery Ice Shelf (near-bed inflow-surface outflow) is a more important influence on basal melt/freeze and sediment distributions than the barotropic circulation that produces inflow in the east and outflow in the west of the ice front. Localized topographic (ice draft and bed elevation) variations are likely to play a dominant role in the resulting sub-ice shelf melt and sediment distribution.

  • Geoscience Australia (GA), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources within the Northern Territory Government (DENR) undertook collaborative seabed mapping surveys (GA0351/SOL6187, GA4452/SOL6432 and combined GA0361 & GA0362) in the Darwin-Bynoe Harbour region between 2015 and 2018. This seabed mapping project forms a core component of a four-year collaborative research program between DENR, GA and AIMS, which was funded by the INPEX-operated Ichthys LNG Project to DENR, with co-investment by GA and AIMS. The purpose of the program is to improve knowledge of the marine environments in the Darwin and Bynoe Harbour regions through the collation and acquisition of baseline data that enable the creation of habitat maps to better inform marine resource management decisions. Mapping and sampling in the survey area utilised multibeam echosounders, sub-bottom profilers, underwater cameras and grab samplers. In total, this data package extends over an area of 1978 km2, including 1754 km2 mapped using multibeam echosounders, during four marine surveys over 247 days. The baseline environmental data acquired in this program provides new insights into the marine environments of the Greater Darwin and Bynoe Harbour region, will inform future environmental assessments in the region and help build our knowledge of seabed features and processes in tropical northern Australia.

  • Widespread seagrass dieback in central Torres Strait, Australia has been anecdotally linked to the delivery of vast quantities of terrigenous sediments from New Guinea. The composition and distribution, and sedimentological and geochemical properties, of seabed and suspended sediments in north and central Torres Strait have been determined to investigate this issue. In northern Torres Strait, next to Saibai Island, seabed sediments comprise poorly sorted, muddy, mixed calcareous-siliciclastic sand. Seabed sediments in this region are dominated by aluminosilicate (terrigenous) phases. In central Torres Strait, next to Turnagain Island, seabed and suspended sediments comprise moderately sorted coarse to medium carbonate sand. Seabed sediments in this region are dominated by carbonate and magnesium (marine) phases. Mean Cu/Al ratios for seabed sediments next to Saibai Island are 0.01, and are similar to those found in New Guinea south coastal sediments by previous workers. Mean Cu/Al ratios for seabed sediments next to Turnagain Island are 0.02, indicating an enrichment of Cu in central Torres Strait. This enrichment comes from an exogenous biogenic source, principally from foraminifers and molluscs. We could not uniquely trace terrigenous sediments from New Guinea to Turnagain Island in central Torres Strait. If sediments are a factor in the widespread seagrass dieback in central Torres Strait, then our data suggest these are marine-derived sediments sourced from resuspension and advection from the immediate shelf areas and not terrigenous sediments dispersed from New Guinea rivers. This finding is consistent with outputs from recently developed regional hydrodynamic and sediment transport models.

  • Geoscience Australia (GA) conducted a marine survey (GA0345/GA0346/TAN1411) of the north-eastern Browse Basin (Caswell Sub-basin) between 9 October and 9 November 2014 to acquire seabed and shallow geological information to support an assessment of the CO2 storage potential of the basin. The survey, undertaken as part of the Department of Industry and Science's National CO2 Infrastructure Plan (NCIP), aimed to identify and characterise indicators of natural hydrocarbon or fluid seepage that may indicate compromised seal integrity in the region. The survey was conducted in three legs aboard the New Zealand research vessel RV Tangaroa, and included scientists and technical staff from GA, the NZ National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd. (NIWA) and Fugro Survey Pty Ltd. Shipboard data (survey ID GA0345) collected included multibeam sonar bathymetry and backscatter over 12 areas (A1, A2, A3, A4, A6b, A7, A8, B1, C1, C2b, F1, M1) totalling 455 km2 in water depths ranging from 90 - 430 m, and 611 km of sub-bottom profile lines. Seabed samples were collected from 48 stations and included 99 Smith-McIntyre grabs and 41 piston cores. An Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) (survey ID GA0346) collected higher-resolution multibeam sonar bathymetry and backscatter data, totalling 7.7 km2, along with 71 line km of side scan sonar, underwater camera and sub-bottom profile data. Twenty two Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) missions collected 31 hours of underwater video, 657 still images, eight grabs and one core. This catalogue entry refers to grain size data and carbonate concentrations of the upper ~2cm of seabed sediment. Sediment samples were first wet sieved to determine the proportions of mud, sand and gravel as a percentage. By wet sieving fine particles are removed from the sand and gravel fractions, allowing an accurate measurement each component. The mud, sand, gravel percentages were also used to derive Folk sediment texture classifications for each sample (Folk, 1980). The grain size of the mud fraction (<63 m) was determined using a Mastersizer laser granulometer. Sediment > 63 um diameter were dried, and dry sieved at values between 4 and -4 phi corresponding to the Wentworth (1922) grain size boundaries between the major sediment classes. The samples were then submitted for measurement of carbonate content by mass using the carbonate digestion method described in Müller and Gastner (1971).

  • This Milestone Report documents the results of the analysis of sediment samples collected during the survey of Sydney Harbour in August, 2003. The samples were collected by Geoscience Australia (GA) and Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO). The sediment sampling programme was undertaken as part of the coastal geomorphology and classification sub-project of the Coastal CRC - Coastal Water Habitat Mapping Project. Samples were collected to assess the physical character of the sediments and map their distribution for comparison with the geomorphology of the estuary floor using new and existing swath bathymetry data. The analysis of the sediment samples will be used to groundtruth the areas surveyed with the Coastal CRC's Reson SeaBat 8125 multibeam sonar mapping system. Approximately one third of the targeted area was covered by the Seabat 8125 in the first survey, due to problems with the survey boat. The remaining area will be surveyed in the second Sydney Harbour survey, which is planned for September/October 2004. The sediment data will be used to assess how the physical properties of the benthos vary spatially and how they influence acoustic backscatter waveforms to classify benthic habitats. The study builds upon the existing knowledge of the geomorphology of the seabed in Sydney Harbour. The report also discusses issues of interpretation and equipment selection for the toolkit as well as other completed work.

  • Digital echo sounding, SeaBeam swath bathymetry data and sediment cores were collected on the continental slope off southeastern Tasmania in order to study sedimentary processes in the vicinity of an ocean disposal site.

  • The Fitzroy catchment is the largest Queensland catchment discharging to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lagoon. Sediments and nutrients together with anthropogenic pollutants originating upstream in the catchment are discharged from the Fitzroy River via the Fitzroy Estuary (FE) and ultimately into Keppel Bay (KB). The estuary and the bay act as natural chemical reactors where the materials delivered undergo chemical and physical transformations before some are deposited and stored in the growing deltaic and beach areas, with the remainder transported eastward to the southern zone of the GBR lagoon.

  • In 2003, Geoscience Australia discovered three large patch reefs in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria (GA Survey 238; SS-03/2004; Harris et al., 2004). The submerged platform reefs (R1, R2 and R3) are located east of Mornington Island and appear to have been formed when sea level was ~30 m below its present position, however as the ship did not come prepared with a drill-core sampler, the sub-surface composition of the reefs was not determined. The submerged platforms support live hard corals in many locations and their discovery raised the question of the possibility of widespread reef occurrence in that region. Survey 276 was designed to deliver some answers to these questions. The current survey used rotary drilling of reefs R1, R2 and R3 which recovered coral material from 8 sites and confirmed the coral reef composition of these features. Multibeam sonar bathymetry and rotary drill cores were collected over two sections (R4 and R5) of a large (>100 km long) submerged platform that extends westwards from Mornington Island. The platform exhibits a Karst erosion surface, exhibiting drainage and depressions with raised rims, overprinting relict reef-growth geomorphic features. Reef growth features include raised rims, spur and groove reef front and elevated back-reef mounds. Other platform reefs were mapped in the south-western Gulf (R6 and R7) and in the Arafura Sea (R8). Rotary drilling has confirmed the coral reef composition of these features. Preliminary assessments of the recovered drill cores indicate that reef growth has persisted in the region for several glacial cycles, extending over at least the past 120,000 years. Dating of Holocene corals by the U/Th method demonstrates that a phase of rapid (1-2 m per kyr) reef growth occurred at most sites between 9 and 7 kyr before present, with zero or much reduced growth rates occurring after 7 kyr ago. Although coral growth occurs in many areas, the production of carbonate has not been sufficient to build the reef-tops upwards to the present sea level. The observations of live corals, but low carbonate production rates, are consistent with a 'catch-up' reef growth pattern, in which the upper surfaces of the reefs are submerged 20 to 30 m below present sea level, with isolated local reef-tops having reached to within 18 m of the sea surface. An analysis of the hypsometry of the reef surfaces indicates that platform surfaces at all sites (R1 to R8) are confined to two narrow depth intervals, centred at 26.8 ± 1 m and 30.7 ± 0.3 m. The good correspondence of hypsometric peaks indicates regionally significant phases of carbonate deposition during a prolonged, Pleistocene sea level still stand. This voyage has proved that the southern Gulf of Carpentaria contains a previously unknown major coral reef province in Australia. The reefs support locally diverse and luxuriant coral growth. From a management perspective, the slow rates of coral growth point to the need for protection of these reef systems because of their limited capacity to recover from natural or human-induced disturbances.

  • Geoscience Australia undertook a marine survey of the Vlaming Sub-basin in March and April 2012 to provide seabed and shallow geological information to support an assessment of the CO2 storage potential of this sedimentary basin. The survey was undertaken under the Australian Government's National CO2 Infrastructure Plan (NCIP) to help identify sites suitable for the long term storage of CO2 within reasonable distances of major sources of CO2 emissions. The Vlaming Sub-basin is located offshore from Perth, Western Australia, and was previously identified by the Carbon Storage Taskforce (2009) as potentially highly suitable for CO2 storage. The principal aim of the Vlaming Sub-basin marine survey (GA survey number GA334) was to look for evidence of any past or current gas or fluid seepage at the seabed, and to determine whether these features are related to structures (e.g. faults) in the Vlaming Sub-basin that may extend up to the seabed. The survey also mapped seabed habitats and biota in the areas of interest to provide information on communities and biophysical features that may be associated with seepage. This research addresses key questions on the potential for containment of CO2 in the Early Cretaceous Gage Sandstone (the basin's proposed CO2 storage unit) and the regional integrity of the South Perth Shale (the seal unit that overlies the Gage Sandstone). This dataset comprises grain size data and carbonate concentrations of the upper ~2cm of seabed sediment.

  • This report provides a description of the activities completed during the Outer Darwin Harbour Mapping Survey, from 28 May and 23 June 2015 on the RV Solander (Survey GA0351/SOL6187). This survey was a collaboration between Geoscience Australia (GA), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Department of Land Resource Management (Northern Territory Government) and the first of four surveys in the Darwin Harbour Seabed Habitat Mapping Program. This 4 year program (2014-2018) aims to improve knowledge of the marine environments in the Darwin and Bynoe Harbour regions by collating and collecting baseline information and developing thematic habitat maps that will underpin future marine resource management decisions. The program was made possible through funds provided by the INPEX-led Ichthys LNG Project to Northern Territory Government Department of Land Resource Management, and co-investment from Geoscience Australia and Australian Institute of Marine Science. The specific objectives of the Outer Darwin Harbour Marine Survey GA0351/SOL6187 were to: 1. Obtain high resolution geophysical (bathymetry) data for outer Darwin Harbour, including Shoal Bay; 2. Characterise substrates (acoustic backscatter properties, grainsize, sediment chemistry) for outer Darwin Harbour, including Shoal Bay; and 3. Collect tidal data for the survey area. Data acquired during the survey included: 720 km2 multibeam sonar bathymetry and acoustic backscatter; 96 sampling stations collecting seabed sediments, underwater photography and video imagery and oceanographic information including tidal data and 54 sound velocity profiles.