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Autumn 2014


Director’s Update

I want to take this opportunity to update you on exciting new developments at the NCGRT and in particular the finalisation of a new strategic plan renewing the NCGRT’s commitment to providing the science, data and new management techniques necessary to address high priority national and international groundwater challenges. Our Flagship Programs will include:

• understanding the potential impact of unconventional gas and hydraulic fracturing on groundwater resources;

• contributing to the successful implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan;

• exploring the role that groundwater can play in maintaining Australia’s water security;

• supporting the successful realisation of the Northern Australia development vision; and

• examining the impacts that climate change, climate variability and population change have on Australia’s groundwater reserves.

The new plan builds on the NCGRT’s success over the last five years in the areas of research, knowledge transfer and professional development. 

The NCGRT’s success is attributable to the outstanding work of the researchers based at our partner organisations.  I am pleased to announce that more partner organisations based locally and internationally will be joining the network throughout the remainder of 2014.  Please check our website over the coming months for more details.

You can find more details about some of the exciting activities that we are currently working on in the articles below, and I warmly welcome any questions or suggestions that you may have.

Professor Craig Simmons
Centre Director


Research Focus - Delving into dual porosity clays with a new centrifuge method

A new centrifuge flow method developed at the NCGRT-UNSW Geocentrifuge facility has enabled scientists to gain new insights into the hydrological properties of rocks and sediments. The work involves driving groundwater under accelerated gravity through rock and sediment samples and measuring the “break-through” signature using a high precision isotope analyser. In the world of hydrology this is a standard technique, however, the new method developed at the NCGRT Geocentrifuge facility combines this with interrupting the flow at periodic intervals throughout the experiment. The impact this “flow interruption” process has on the shape of the isotope “break-through” is then compared with output from a bespoke numerical modelling code.

Preliminary results suggest that this new technique could unlock a unique understanding of how rocks and sediment behave in the natural environment. This new avenue of research has already improved our understanding of dual porosity flow where two or more flow pathways exist through porous samples. For example, the work has enabled NCGRT-UNSW scientists to gain key knowledge on how clay core taken from depths of up to 40 meters can help protect fresh groundwater resources in the Gunnedah region of New South Wales . The work was recently presented at the 2014 Goldshmidt conference and is currently being prepared for journal publication later this year.
For further information contact Dr Richard Crane: or Dr Wendy Timms

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2015 NCGRT Distinguished Lecture series

We are delighted to announce that the internationally acclaimed managed aquifer recharge scientist, Dr Peter Dillon, has agreed to be the 2015 NCGRT Distinguished Lecturer.

Dr Dillon has over 25 years research experience in groundwater –surface water interaction, groundwater quality protection from diffuse and point sources and agricultural water reuse. For 12 years he has chaired the IAH Commission on Managing Aquifer Recharge, and he also leads the UNESCO MAR-NET network to facilitate uptake of safe MAR in developing countries.

The NCGRT Distinguished Lecturer series has been a highly successful annual event that has showcased the work of eminent groundwater researchers. First introduced in 2011, these lectures have attracted over 1000 participants across academia, government and the water industry, so it is vital that they continue.

Dates and further details are currently being finalised and will be announced in coming months.

In the meantime, the NCGRT offers over 20 research videos - including past Distinguished Lecturers - all freely available on our website.

Dr Peter Dillon

Willunga Basin Water Trail launched

The Willunga Basin Water Trail was launched in June by the Hon. Ian Hunter, SA Minister for Water and the River Murray, and Lorraine Rosenberg, Mayor of the City of Onkaparinga (both pictured right, with NCGRT Director Craig Simmons).

Groundwater can be a difficult concept for many people to visualise or understand. It is literally under our feet but there is little infrastructure above ground for people to see and touch.

To respond to this missing link, the NCGRT collaborated with local partners across the Willunga Basin to create the trail of six interpretive signs relating to features of the local groundwater system.

The trail has also been made available online - but is optimised to work on mobile phone devices to cater for people who discover the signs on location.

Visit the Willunga Basin Water Trail website

Groundwater professional development

The Centre’s training and development team has been hard at work consulting key stakeholders and course participants over the last few months on opportunities to continually improve our training program. The 2015 Program contains an exciting new range of specialist topics and flexible learning options and will be launched on 31 October 2014.

In the meantime, don't miss these upcoming chances to grow your professional knowledge and skills:

Oct: Reinjection of Coal Seam Gas Associated Water

Nov: Groundwater Field Methods School

Dec: Australian Groundwater School

If you have any questions or need more information about the existing or customised training offered by the NCGRT, please email or call 08 8201 5632.

NCGRT publication database now online

You can now search through the journal papers, books, chapters, reports and conference proceedings from NCGRT researchers and affiliates.

A handy searchable database tool has been developed for our website, that allows you to search by abstract, title or publication keyword, researcher, subject area or NCGRT research program.

This database demonstrates the strong commitment that the NCGRT has towards making its research available in easy and effective ways.

We recommend you give it a try

New PhD research opportunities

The NCGRT’s annual call for national and international PhD candidates was launched on 9 September.

Applications were sought from outstanding students with backgrounds in a range of science, engineering and social science disciplines who wish to undertake PhD studies at one of our partner universities.

This research will address high priority national and international groundwater challenges and reflects our continued success in securing new research partnerships and grant funding opportunities.

Applications closed on 30 September and are currently under review.


Cast your vote in the Google Impact Challenge

We are very excited that NCGRT and UTS researcher Derek Eamus is a finalist in the Google Impact Challenge.

Derek has led the development of a simple and scalable technology that uses trees to detect the amount of groundwater left. That's an issue of vital concern to the around 2 billion people who depend on groundwater – the largest source of usable, fresh water in the world.


Upcoming events and activities

Help shape an ‘industry-led’ water strategy at the AWA National Water Policy Summit in Sydney from 14-15 October.

The NCGRT is planning the Australian 2015 Groundwater Conference to be held in Canberra on 24-26 November 2015.  Watch for more details in the coming weeks and months but, in the meantime, save the date. 


National Centre
for Groundwater
Research and Training

Flinders University
GPO Box 2100

Tel +61 8 8201 2193
Fax +61 8 8201 7906





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