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Effects of bushfires on the estuarine systems of Kangaroo Island

Insights from metal isotopes and satellite imaging approach

This project will use selected novel metal isotope tracers to better understand the sources and pathways of heavy metals released during recent 2020 bushfires into local soils, streams and estuaries around Kangaroo Island.

These heavy metals negatively impact local water quality and marine ecosystem health.

Kangaroo Island Bushfire

Satellite image of bushfire impacted areas, Kangaroo Island. View larger image.

Specifically, we will use chromium (Cr) and copper (Cu) concentrations and isotopes to trace these toxic metal contaminants sourced from burnt vegetation and CCA (Copper Chrome Arsenate) treated timber; and strontium isotopes (Sr) will be used to quantify local weathering rates and input fluxes of solutes from the land to coastal/estuarine systems.

The above geochemical/isotope approach will be complemented by remote sensing imagery (such as PlanetScope or Sentinel) of affected areas, to identify the extent and distribution of turbidity/ash plumes on the near-shore estuarine systems, and their links to spatial metal isotope data measured in local waters, streams and soils. This project will involve fieldwork and sampling in Kangaroo Island and nearby estuaries; and follow up metal isotope analysis on both new and previously collected samples, and modelling of acquired isotope data with respect to spatial information from available satellite images.

This project is part of a newly funded Coastal Research & Development Grant, supported via Department of Environment and Waters (DEW).


Dr Juraj Farkas


Dr Juraj Farkas

Co-supervisorsProfessor Bronwyn Gillanders, Professor Megan Lewis, Dr Patrick Reis Santos and Dr Wallace Boone Law

Research area: Mineral and energy systems, Tectonics and solid earth processes, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeontology and palaeoenvironments, Environmental geochemistry

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Geology

Tagged in Honours projects - Geology, Honours Projects - Juraj Farkas, Honours projects - Bronwyn Gillanders, Honours projects - Megan Lewis, Honours projects - Patrick Reis Santos, Honours projects - Wallace Boone Law, Honours projects - Ecology and environmental science

Competition: Young Scientist of the Year

How do we feed the world’s growing population? How do we save our wildlife from extinction? Got an idea that will build a brighter, greener world?

Australian high school students are invited to submit a short video about one of Australia’s big science challenges.

Video competition