PhD research tackles Victoria River troubles 


Research from Charles Darwin University is unlocking the causes of erosion along the banks of the Victoria River.

Environmental scientist with the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Resource Management, Dr Gillian McCloskey will be awarded a PhD from CDU at next week’s end-of-year graduation ceremony for her investigation into riparian gully erosion along the Victoria River dating back to the late 1800s.

Dr McCloskey said she believed that the gullies were one of the major sources of sediment in the Victoria River.

“Through my thesis I examined the processes of erosion, as well as whether investigating if the introduction of cattle to the region in the late 1800s caused the problem and, if so, to what extent,” she said.

Dr McCloskey used various research methods including aerial photo analysis, ground-truthing, and dating techniques using fallout radionuclides, a result of nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s.

“The research identified erosion features called gully complexes, comprised of a flood drainage channel (FDC) and an outer amphitheatre shaped erosion feature comprised of an alluvial zone and badlands at the upslope edge,” she said.

“Gully complexes are found in northern Australia, having been identified in other north Australian catchments such as the Daly (NT), Ord (WA), and Mitchell River (Qld) catchments, and differ from temperate Australian gullies.”

Dr McCloskey said the results suggested the FDC was a naturally occurring feature, most likely formed during floodplain development.

“The outer erosion feature is likely linked to the introduction and continued grazing of cattle and feral animals in the area."