Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Sediment fluxes and sinks for Magela Creek, Northern Territory, Australia

Wayne D. Erskine A B C E , M. J. Saynor C , J. M. Boyden C and K. G. Evans C D

A School of Environmental and Life Sciences, The University of Newcastle, PO Box 127, Ourimbah, NSW 2258, Australia.

B Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, School for the Environment and Life Sciences, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

C Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist, GPO Box 461, Darwin, NT 0801, Australia.

D Present address: Water Engineering and Mining Technology Group, School of Engineering and Information Technology, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

E Corresponding author: Email: wde059@gmail.com

Marine and Freshwater Research - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF16107
Submitted: 1 April 2016  Accepted: 29 October 2016   Published online: 9 January 2017

Abstract

Sediment fluxes and sinks based on total sediment load for Magela Creek in the Australian wet–dry tropics have been constructed from detailed measurements of stream-suspended sediment (turbidity and suspended sand) and bedload for the 10-year period from 2001–2002 to 2010–2011. The present work showed that the sediment-trap efficiency of the vegetated wetlands on lower Magela is high at ~89.5%. Sediment yields are low by world standards, and are further reduced by the sediment-trapping effects of floodplains, floodouts, billabongs, backswamps and the extensive terminal wetlands. Suspended-sediment yields exceed bedload yields in this deeply weathered, tropical landscape, whereas the amount of sand (suspended sand and bedload) transported greatly exceeds that of silt and clay. Nevertheless, sand is totally stored above topographic base level. Longitudinal continuity of sediment transport is not maintained along Magela Creek and tributaries. As a result, suspended sediment and bedload move discontinuously from the headwaters and do not reach the estuary with intervening stores.

Additional keywords: bedload, sediment discontinuities, sediment-trap efficiency of wetlands, suspended sand, suspended sediment, turbidity.


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