The Hydrogeochemistry of Spring and Gorge Waters of the Karijini National Park, Pilbara, Western Australia.
Thesis DisciplineEngineering Geology
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Isotopes and hydrochemistry were used to define groundwater flow systems and better understand the hydrogeological setting of the Karijini National Park within the Central Pilbara region, this study was initiated because of the near proximity of the Marandoo iron ore mine to the National Park. Based on the stable isotope composition of the water samples, two main groups of water can be identified. Groundwater is characterised by depleted δD and δ¹⁸O, suggesting no significant evaporation effect. Surface water on the other hand is more enriched in δD and δ¹⁸O due to evaporation. The relatively high concentration of Cl- compared to rainfall and depleted δD and δ¹⁸O values of groundwater indicate that recharge of the aquifers is occurring during intense rainfall events when rapid infiltration occurs. Evapotranspiration then acts to concentrate ionic species prior to recharge. The presence of CFCs in the groundwater indicates the presence of modern recharge water. Relationships between various ionic species has shown that infiltration through the Tertiary sequence and subsquent dissolution of carbonate minerals is main influence on increasing concentrations of Ca²⁺ , Mg²⁺ , HCO₃⁻ . The TDS concentration of the groundwater in the Marra-Mamba Iron Formation that hosts the Marandoo ore body is higher than most of the water bodies surrounding the mining area. This suggests that either significant chemical modification is occuring or it is recharged by different mechanisms to that of the Karijini groundwater. Relationships between the major ion concentration and catchment area, surficial Tertiary cover and distance between recharge and discharge were identified. The results show that the hydrochemistry of the water discharging at each location within the National Park can be justified by groundwater evolution within it’s own catchment.