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Insights into the history and timing of post-European land use disturbance on sedimentation rates in catchments draining to the Great Barrier Reef

Bartley, Rebecca, Thompson, Chris, Croke, Jacky, Pietsch, Tim, Baker, Brett, Hughes, Kate, Kinsey-Henderson, Anne
Marine pollution bulletin 2018 v.131 pp. 530-546
climate, grazing, land use, mining, runoff, sediments, water pollution, watersheds, Great Barrier Reef
Sediment runoff has been cited as a major contributor to the declining health of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), however, climate and land use drivers have not been jointly evaluated. This study used alluvial archives from fluvial benches in two tributaries of the Upper Burdekin catchment together with the best available land use history and climate proxy records to provide insights into the timing of depositional events in this region over the past 500 years. This study suggests that mining and the increased runoff variability in the latter half of the nineteenth century are the likely sources of the original excess sediment that was used to build the bench features in these catchments. Grazing also contributed to increased bench sedimentation prior to 1900, however, the contribution of grazing was likely more significant in the second half of the 20th century, and continues to be a dominant land use contributor today.