Publication Details

Buckman, S., Brownlie, K. C., Morris, R., Bourman, R. P. & Leon Patino, J. (2009). Using Lidar to Assess the Effect of Fire and Floods on Upland Peat Bogs, Waterfall Gully, Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia. Proceedings of the Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute Biennial International Conference (pp. 733-743). Adelaide, Australia: Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute.


A flood exceeding the 100 year average recurrence interval in November 2005 led to the failure of an upland peat bog in Waterfall Gully. The area is prone to severe bushfire and flood events and the control dam at the base of First Falls was filled with sediment sourced from Wilson Bog. A resistant quartzite bar at Fourth Falls has formed a natural constriction point against which burnt logs and debris have collected following previous fire events forming a natural dam resulting in sediment/peat accumulation upstream. The failure of the bog was inevitable as the vegetative material in the log-jam progressively weakened and rotted. Intense flooding triggered the failure but it was augmented by the build up of a critical mass of sediment upstream of the restriction point. The downstream force of the flood waters and the weight of the saturated bog sediments was enough to overcome the basal frictional forces resulting in slumping and headward erosion. LiDAR data clearly shows an erosion channel scoured out by the flood. Approximately 5000 m3 of sediment (-10,100 tonnes) was washed downstream. LiDAR coupled with a tri-spectral scanner has the capacity to identify other upland peat bogs due to their high NDVI value and assess their stability on steep slopes or narrow valleys. Fire is another risk to the stability of these bogs as it has the potential to remove binding vegetation and expose unconsolidated sediments to erosion during subsequent rain events. Groundsurface and vegetation surface DEM's generated from LiDAR combined with NDVI maps derived from a tri-spectral scanner provide an ideal tool to monitor and assess the risk of slumping in other upland peat bogs.