Obscure oases: natural, cultural and historical geography of western Queensland's Tertiary sandstone springs

Silcock, Jennifer L., Macdermott, Harry, Laffineur, Boris and Fensham, Roderick J. (2016) Obscure oases: natural, cultural and historical geography of western Queensland's Tertiary sandstone springs. Geographical Research, 54 2: 1-16. doi:10.1111/1745-5871.12175


Author Silcock, Jennifer L.
Macdermott, Harry
Laffineur, Boris
Fensham, Roderick J.
Title Obscure oases: natural, cultural and historical geography of western Queensland's Tertiary sandstone springs
Journal name Geographical Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1745-5871
1745-5863
Publication date 2016-01-20
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/1745-5871.12175
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 54
Issue 2
Start page 1
End page 16
Total pages 16
Place of publication Richmond, VIC, Australia
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject 3305 Geography, Planning and Development
1904 Earth-Surface Processes
Abstract The distribution of surface water dictates human and animal activity in arid zones. Although typically small, hidden, and inaccessible, springs and wells fed by local aquifers were the only sources of reliable water across vast areas of inland Australia until the last century. Compared to larger, more accessible water sources such as riverine waterholes and Great Artesian Basin discharge springs, their history is sketchy and poorly documented, although rich in intrigue and mythology. Since the expansion of artificial waters and motorised transport, many of these small oases have become forgotten, and their location and permanence are now less well-known than for thousands of years. We examine the distribution, hydrogeology, cultural history, and biological values of Tertiary sandstone springs in western Queensland based on a review of historical literature, interviews with long-term residents, and extensive field surveys. One hundred and sixty springs were documented, and nearly 40% of these have declined in flow or become inactive since pastoral settlement for reasons that are not well understood. While their decline in some areas seems related to shallow bores sunk into their local aquifers, it is possible that some smaller springs owed their existence to regular human maintenance. Others are probably naturally dynamic over decadal time scales. This study documents an almost-forgotten aspect of Queensland's natural and cultural history.
Keyword Australia
Cultural history and geography
Desert
Hydrogeology
Queensland
Sandstone
Springs
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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