Ancient Mound Springs Under Threat

bubblah.jpg - 23866 Bytes
Mound Springs Overview or Various Images
Detailed Research Report or Conference Papers or Journal Paper

Journal Paper
"Mound Springs of the Great Artesian Basin
in South Australia: A Case Study from Olympic Dam"

Gavin M. Mudd, 2000, Environmental Geology, 39 (5), pp 463-476.

Download through here (Link to Springer's site).

Abstract The mound springs of South Australia are a unique groundwater discharge feature of the Great Artesian Basin (GAB), a deep regional groundwater system that covers 22% of the Australian continent. They are the principal sources of surface water in the arid to semi-arid inland heart of Australia, and have great ecological, scientific, anthropological and economic significance. Excessive development of the Great Artesian Basin over the past century by European activity has seen an overall decline in the flows from the springs. Recent development of the water supply borefields for the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine in the midst of one the most important spring groups has exacerbated this problem. A review of the history of the Olympic Dam borefields, an analysis of the impacts on the Mound Springs, and future recommendations for the return of environmental flows and protection of the springs is presented.


Recent Conference Papers
"The Sustainability of Mound Springs
in South Australia : Implications for Olympic Dam"

By Gavin M Mudd, Victoria University of Technology

Two conference papers were recently prepared, accepted and presented at international scientific conferences. The first paper, 10 pages, was "Uranium Mining Hydrogeology II" (UMH II) Conference in Freiberg, Germany, September 15-17, 1998. Many thanks to the conference organisers who supported my attendance at the conference. The second paper, 13 pages, was the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) meeting of the IAH's Commission on Mineral and Thermal Waters (IAH-CMTW). Although technical in style, they should be readily understood by anyone interested in the impacts of Roxby. The IAH paper is a further extension of the UMH II conference paper, containing more analysis of the borefield's impacts.

Download or View Online Here (Acrobat/PDF)
UMH-II and IAH-CMTW

(Be sure to print at 600 dpi resolution)
Abstract :

The Mound Springs of South Australia are unique groundwater discharge features of the Great Artesian Basin, a deep regional groundwater system that covers over one-fifth of the Australia continent. They are the principal sources of water in the arid and semi-arid inland heart of Australia, and have great ecological, scientific, anthropological and economic significance. Excessive development of the Great Artesian Basin over the past century by European activity has seen an overall decline in the flows from the mound springs, and recent development of the water supply borefields for the WMC Olympic Dam Operations copper-uranium mine in the midst of the most important spring groups has exacerbated this problem. A review of the history of the borefields, an analysis of the impacts on the mound springs, and future recommendations for protection of the springs is presented.


Mound Springs Overview
The Bubbler
  • The Olympic Dam mine now uses more than 15 million litres of water per day from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) to process the ore. The GAB is a vast and ancient body of water that lies deep under the surface of central Australia.

    The GAB supports many mound springs. The mound springs are natural up-wellings of water which, over millennia, deposit water-borne minerals that form into mounds. The springs are unique arid land habitats and have world class natural and cultural significance. They support rare and delicate micro flora and fauna, many species of which are endemic to a particular mound spring.

    pipewort.gif - 13.30 K Since water extraction for the mine began in a region now known as Borefield A, many of the surrounding mound spring complexes have experienced reduced flows, or have ceased flowing altogether. Veneble Spring is now maintained artificially by a WMC pumping station. Bopeechee Spring, on the verge of drying up completely, is currently the subject of experimentation by WMC as they undertake ad hoc efforts to "rehabilitate" the spring by resupplying the groundwater that feeds it. On a recent tour by Friends of the Earth to the region, witnesses confirmed that Bopeechee was still not flowing.

    springs-aerial.gif - 20.65 K The mound springs are of profound cultural significance to the Aboriginal people of the region. The Arabunna people are the traditional custodians of the Lake Eyre South region, the land in which effected mound springs are located. The springs and the Artesian waters that supply them form an integral part of the communal intellectual property of the Arabunna people. WMC refuses to negotiate with the Arabunna or be party to any initiatives to preserve and protect the mound springs. In fact, WMC has mounted an extensive campaign against the World Heritage nomination of the Lake Eyre Basin. It has a vested interest in preventing World Heritage nomination because of its profligate use of water from the Great Artesian Basin.


  • Mound Springs - Oases In The Desert

    Daniel Keane (RMIT Final Year Environmental Engineering Student) has just finished a major research report on the Mound Springs, where Roxby obtains artesian water for the Olympic Dam mine and Roxby Downs township.

    "The sustainability of use of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin,
    with particular reference to the south-western edge of the basin
    and impact on the mound springs"

    Download Here (Acrobat/PDF)

    This report is the first truly comprehensive study of the hydrogeology of the springs, their unique biological and ecological importance, indigenous issues and the devastating impact ODO has had and is continuing to have on this unqiuely beautiful part of Australia.

    For further info or a printed copy of the report (if you cannot make use of the above Acrobat file) contact :

    Gavin Mudd
    P.O. Box 6405
    St Lucia, QLD 4067
    Uni (07) 3365 3745 and Fax (07) 3365 4599
    Email : [email protected].

    The report has many colour diagrams, so a donation would be appreciated to help in copying and mailing costs (if a black & white copy is sufficient, this can be done much cheaper).


    Mound Springs - Images for Download


    Photo - the Bubbler Mound Spring, Coward Springs area.
    Photo by Linda & Ila Marks, September, 1988.

    Page last updated - March 12, 2001.
    Back to the Roxby Archivesor Back to the SEA-US Front Page

    Copyright © SEA-US 1997-2001