Indicator: CO-29 Change in area of coastal potential acid sulphate soils under development for human use

Data

Potential Acid Sulphate Soils

Potential Acid Sulphate Soils

Source: Department of the Environment and Heritage 2006, National coastal acid sulfate soils, viewed 26 May 2006, http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/cass/index.html#what

What the data mean

The map provides only a crude indication of the extent of the Australian coastline that is at risk from disturbance of acid sulphate soils.

More detailed information on where on the continent acid sulphate soils are to be found is available from a web-based mapping and resource tool to manage acid sulfate soils, developed by CSIRO. The tool is at: Australian Soil Resource Information System 

Data Limitations

The more detailed mapping, mentioned above, on where acid sulphate soils are likely to be, is needed so that these data can be overlaid with data on changes in extent of coastal development derived from remote sensing. Once such overlays are practical, it will be possible to show the extent of the Australian foreshore containing acid sulphate soils that has been disturbed over various recent periods. This analysis will give an indication of the extent of the Australian coastline at immediate risk from acid sulphate soils.

Issues for which this is an indicator and why

Coasts and Oceans — Direct pressure of human activities on coasts and oceans - Direct pressure of coastal activities (other than shipping and fishing) 

Acid water and heavy metal pollution, caused by the disturbance of acid sulphate soils, is a major environmental issue for the management of coastal regions around Australia. The disturbance and exposure of acid sulphate soils by earth moving practices and fluctuations in groundwater levels can cause the oxidation of pyrite which produces sulphuric acid. The acid can have both direct impacts on the receiving environment and indirect impacts as the acid in mobilises toxic metals.

Elevated levels of mobilised trace heavy metals in soil and water can be toxic to aquatic life if released into the drainage, and to marine life if released into seawater. Land areas impacted by exposed acid sulphate soils have poor fertility, high vegetation dieback and are prone to surface scalding and erosion.

Changes in area of potential acid sulphate soils encroached by human development is indicative of the length of coastline at risk of acid sulphate contamination.

Other indicators for this issue:

Coasts and Oceans — Contributions and pressures between the coasts and oceans and land - Effects of changes in the land on the oceans 

Much of the soil around Australia’s coastline is highly acidic. While it is primarily the disturbance of acid sulphate soils by human development that causes these soils to enter coastal waters, flooding and sea surge events can also transport acidic soils to coastal waters. Changes in area of potential acid sulphate soils encroached by human development is indicative of the length of coastline at risk of acid sulphate contamination.

Other indicators for this issue:

Coasts and Oceans — Contributions and pressures between the coasts and oceans and inland water - Effect of changes in inland waters on the coasts and oceans 

Acid sulphate soils, released from adjacent land by development can reach coastal and estuarine waters via river outflows.

Other indicators for this issue:

Land — Contributions and pressures between the land and the ocean - Pressures of land changes on the coasts and oceans 

Much of the soil around Australia’s coastline is highly acidic. While it is primarily the disturbance of acid sulphate soils by human development that causes these soils to enter coastal waters, flooding and sea surge events can also transport acidic soils to coastal waters. Changes in area of potential acid sulphate soils encroached by human development is indicative of the length of coastline at risk of acid sulphate contamination from land disturbance.

Other indicators for this issue:

Biodiversity — Pressures on biodiversity - Pressures on marine biodiversity: pressures of coastal activities 

Acid sulphate soils disturbed by human settlements can have a significant impact on marine organisms.

Other indicators for this issue:

Further Information