Publication Details

Banasiak, L. J. & Indraratna, B. (2012). Key strategies for managing acid sulphate soil (ASS) problems on the southeastern coast of New South Wales, Australia. In G. A. Narsilio, A. Arulrajah & J. Kodikara (Eds.), 11th Australia - New Zealand Conference on Geomechanics: Ground Engineering in a Changing World (pp. 1-6). Australia: Engineers Australia.


The acidification of Australian coastal waterways as a result of the oxidation of acid sulphate soil (ASS) containing appreciable quantities of sulphidic material (e.g. pyrite) has well recognised environmental, economic and social effects including the loss of fish, biodiversity and agricultural productivity as well as the corrosion of concrete and steel infrastructure by acidic drainage. Largescale artificial drainage and one-way floodgates in low-lying coastal floodplains has lowered the groundwater table, thus enhancing pyritic oxidation and increasing the distribution, magnitude and frequency of acid generation and release of toxic metals such as aluminium (Al3+) and iron (total Fe) from ASS. Engineering strategies implemented on the Shoalhaven Floodplain, southeast New South Wales, Australia have been designed to remediate ASS. These include: (1) fixed-level v-notch weirs, which raise the groundwater table above the pyritic layer and reduce the rate of discharge of acidic products from the groundwater into the drains; (2) modified two-way floodgates, which allow for tidal buffering of acidic drainage; (3) a subsurface alkaline horizontal impermeable lime-fly ash barrier, which prevents pyrite oxidation and neutralises acidic groundwater and (4) an alkaline permeable reactive barrier (PRB) using recycled materials, which significantly increases groundwater pH and reduces Al and Fe concentrations within and down-gradient of the PRB. A critical review of each of these strategies will outline their role in remediating ASS and their respective benefits and limitations.

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