Modeling seawater intrusion in the Burdekin Delta aquifer, North Queensland, Australia

K. Narayan, C. Schleeberger, P.B. Charlesworth, Keith Bristow

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

    108 Citations (Scopus)


    The Burdekin Delta is situated in the dry tropics of North Queensland and provides a major waterresource for the irrigation of sugarcane. The Delta is unique in that it overlies a shallow groundwater systemand is close to the Great Barrier Reef. Aquifer management practices include large recharge pits to assist withartificial replenishment of groundwater. Artificial recharge can be used to maintain groundwater levels andsubsequently control seawater intrusion. This technique, however, is often costly and ineffective in areaswhere excessive groundwater pumping occurs. In the lower Burdekin Delta more than 1800 groundwaterpumps are used for irrigation purposes and excessive pumping has resulted in seawater intrusion near thecoastline. In this paper we describe the use of a variable density flow and solute transport model, SUTRA, todefine the current and potential extent of saltwater intrusion in the Burdekin Delta aquifer under variouspumping and recharge conditions. A 2-D vertical cross-section model has been developed for the area, whichaccounts for groundwater pumping and various artificial recharge sites currently being used in the delta. TheBurdekin Delta aquifer consists mainly of sand and clay with granitic bedrock. The model domain usesvertical cross sections along the direction of groundwater flow. The initial conditions were based on the landuse prior to agricultural development in the area when the seawater interface was in its assumed natural state.The results address the effects of variations in pumping and artificial and natural recharge rates on thedynamics of saltwater intrusion. The simulation has been carried out for a range of recharge, pumping ratesand hydraulic conductivity values. The results show that the saltwater intrusion is far more sensitive topumping rates and recharge than aquifer properties such as hydraulic conductivity. The impacts of possiblemanagement scenarios on groundwater quality have also been investigated.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIntegrative Modelling of Biophysical, Social and Economic Systems for Resource Management Solutions
    EditorsD.A. Post
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    PublisherModelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand
    Number of pages6
    Publication statusPublished - 2003
    EventMODSIM 2003 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. - Townsville, Queensland, Australia
    Duration: 14 Jul 200317 Jul 2003


    ConferenceMODSIM 2003 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation.


    Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling seawater intrusion in the Burdekin Delta aquifer, North Queensland, Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this