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Mar Pollut Bull. 2018 Oct;135:954-962. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.08.018. Epub 2018 Aug 17.

Simulated fate of catchment-derived sediment on the Great Barrier Reef shelf.

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CSIRO Ocean and Atmosphere, GPO Box 1538, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia. Electronic address:
CSIRO Ocean and Atmosphere, GPO Box 1538, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia.
CSIRO Land and Water, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia; Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, Townsville MC, QLD 4810, Australia.
CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Ecosciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Road, Dutton Park, QLD 4102, Australia.


Numerical experiments using a 3D model of fine sediment transport in the Great Barrier Reef region indicate deposition of the bulk mass of catchment sediments from river plumes within a few tens of kilometres from river mouths. A very fine fraction of easily resuspended catchment sediment has a capacity to propagate over much greater distances reaching out into the mid-shelf and outer-shelf regions. The model suggests such particles, instrumental to the development of low density flocs in the marine environment, can play a critical role in altering optical properties of water masses over the shelf during wet years. The mid-term (4 year) impact of Great Barrier Reef catchments on the probability of suspended sediment concentration exceeding the ecologically significant trigger value of 2 mg/L is confined to inshore regions adjacent to river mouth locations.


Catchments; Great Barrier Reef; Numerical model; Sediment transport

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