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GWB announces new projects in Australia
Pictured above are two Anangu tribe men dancing to celebrate the anniversary of the "Holdback", an agreement which allowed the traditional Aboriginal owners to take back the title to the land.
Thanks to a large investment by Santos, a major Australian Oil and Gas company, GWB offered a special opportunity this past spring to fund two new projects restricted to Southern Australia. The projects are uniquely different, but both will carry major benefits to local communities and provide field experience for dozens of students involved.
One of the projects selected for funding was submitted by Stanford University and partners with CSIRO and the University of Adelaide. The goal of the joint venture will be to build on the development of a prior GWB project from the University of Adelaide which employed geophysical surveys to locate groundwater resources for Aboriginal communities in remote and arid parts of South Australia.
Residents of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia live in an extremely dry environment. As such, access to potable water is of critical importance for these remote communities. To ensure the sustainability of current ground water resources on which these communities depend and to assist in locating potential future sites for wells, project participants and students from the two universities involved will conduct a geophysical survey to quantify and locate ground water resources surrounding several communities in the APY lands. The project is scheduled to begin in September. The second project, led by the University of Adelaide along with Zoos South Australia®, will be focused on southern hairy-nosed wombat (SHNW) which is found predominantly in South Australia (SA) on agricultural properties. At first glance, the project may sound a little unconventional to many of us, but these cute creatures cause an incredible amount of damage to crops and fences. Their burrows grow so large, vehicles can fall through them.
Pictured on the left is a Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat. On the right, are examples of some of the damages caused by SHNW to agricultural properties (1) digging in cropping paddocks, (2) damage to machinery from collapsed tunnels, (3) damage to windmills can influence water availability, and (4) digging under tanks can lead to collapse.
The participants will employ ground-penetrating radar and other near surface geophysical tools to map the areal extent of the burrows. One of the main benefits of a project like this is the student experience aspect. There is little doubt that a fourth year (honours) project that combines aspects of field work with data processing and interpretation is a valuable experience for a young geophysicist. This project combines all of these attributes with an interesting biological/environmental aspect that makes it a truly unique and worthwhile experience for the student.
This project will begin in 2014 and is part of a large-scale effort aimed at developing a technique to model SHNW abundance at several different scales (state-wide, regionally and/or property specific). This model will be an important tool for SHNW managers and policy decision makers, and will assist in alleviating all areas of conflict and ensure the long term survival of this species. Developing a toolkit for landholders to improve management of SHNWs on their property will reduce farmer/wombat and promote co-existence; allowing farmers to make a living, but ensuring this species survives in future.
For more information on the GWB program, please visit www.seg.org/gwb. To learn more about the SEG Foundation, please visit www.seg.org/foundation.
Stop by the GWB Booth at these upcoming events!
October 27-30, 2013
San Francisco, California
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