School of Earth Sciences - Theses

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    Structural analysis of selected duplex soils
    Knight, Michael John ( 1971)
    The profile characteristics, geographical extent and general environmental relationships of duplex soils are described. They are shown to be an important group in Australia and particularly in Victoria. The variety of approaches and definitions employed by investigators of soil structure are discussed. These are contrasted with the definition used in this thesis which incorporates the concepts of spatial distribution and orientation of vectorial fabric elements in the soil. The importance of describing structural features at a number of scales is emphasized. At each scale an attempt is made to quantitatively describe (where possible) the three or two-dimensional geometrical properties of the soil components. A structural classification of duplex soils that incorporates a number of descriptive geometrical elements is proposed. A detailed study is made of the structure and related chemical, physical and mineralogical properties at an undisturbed site (Boorook) in Western Victoria. The ground surface at the Boorook site is described as being deformed into gilgai microrelief. It is demonstrated that soil structural analysis can be usefully employed to develop a swelling mechanism that explains how the Boorook gilgai probably formed. The data and subsequent analysis tends to place some doubt on mechanisms proposed by past workers. A detailed study is also reported from a site (Hartwell) near Melbourne. The site is described as being illustrative of profiles that show little or no internal and ground surface deformation. An unfolded stoneline is considered to be the principal structural feature. The mechanism for the formation of the stoneline is shown to probably involve gravitational settling of the grains in a fluid-like medium. Regional investigations of profiles throughout Western and Central Victoria and New Guinea are also described. It has been found that the principles and techniques of soil structural analysis can also be applied to buried soil structures. By these means it has been possible to establish that buried fold-like structures seen in section in a road cutting at Terang, are in fact relics of gilgai. Experimental models have assisted the investigations into the structure of duplex soils and have provided additional information on the dynamic interaction of moisture with the soil components. The main processes and sequences in the genetic development of structure of duplex soils as discussed in the light of observations of natural structures and experimental results. Attention is drawn to the differences between the dominant structural processes in the two main horizons of the profile. The approach of soil structural analysis is formalized for profile studies into the discipline of Structural Pedology. The principles of Structural Pedology threaded through the body of the thesis are summarized and shown to be very similar to those of Rock Fabric Analysis. The need for an interdisciplinary approach in this field is emphasized. It is shown that soil structural analysis is not limited to Pedology but rather can be applied to a number of academic and applied problems in a variety of disciplines that include Engineering (Soil Mechanics), Earth Sciences, Agriculture, Soil Erosion and Conservation.
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    The geology and hydrogeology of the Corangamite region
    Thompson, Bruce R. ( 1971)
    Tectonic activity after the early Cretaceous resulted in a complete change in the depositional environment in the sedimentary basin - the Otway Basin - located to the south of the Western Highlands of Victoria and to the west of Melbourne. ThiS Basin became subject to increasing marine influences and the sediments deposited include thick sequences of Miocene marls: the Gellibrand Marl. The water in the marls and in the underlying sands of the Dilwyn Formation is saline near Lake Corangamite but elsewhere water of good quality is found in the sand aquifers, indicating that tectonic activity has caused the local isolation of the lower formation from the effects of flushing by fresher groundwater. Continued tectonic activity and associated volcanic activity during the Miocene and Lower Pliocene resulted firstly in the regression of the sea then the development of the internal drainage characteristic of the Corangamite Region. The sea probably retreated to the southeast as indicated by the unusual parallel physiographic features which have influenced the flows of 'earlier' Newer Volcanic lavas in the Curdie River area and the subsequent development of this river's drainage system. These features are probably related to remanent coast strandlines. The quality of the groundwater found in the 'earlier' lavas is generally poor but the basalts and tuffs of the 'later' Newer Volcanic age often contain water of low salinity, particularly in the intake areas which are located in the ‘stony rises' or near the volcanic cones. The intake area water of the Mt. Warrion basalts is a low salinity calcium-magnesium-bicarbonate water, having an unusually high nitrate content. As the salinity of the water increases away from the intake area the chemical nature of the water approaches that of a dilute sea water. This has been interpreted as being the result of a release of 'oceanic' connate salts by weathering of the calcareous material found in the tuffs and scoria beds of the volcanic cones. The material has been derived from the underlying marl sequence and has been incorporated into the igneous rocks during eruption. The high nitrate concentration has been attributed to the effects of pollution, since there is some evidence that the nitrate values have increased over the last sixty years, but there is also probably an increased rate of fixation in the intake area due to the effects of cultivation. The high bicarbonate values are probably due to a high rate of absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the intake areas. The hydraulic characteristic of the basalts ensures the rapid distribution at the high nitrate and bicarbonate waters of the intake area over large areas, hence the effects of pollution are more readily noticeable. The groundwater regime plays an important role in the transfer of dissolved salts in the mainly saline water domain of the Corangamite Region. The study of the water and salt content of some of the lakes of the area indicates that a balance exists that results in the maintenance of a specific lake salinity within narrow limits, and in which the groundwater regime is often involved. By considering the salt balance and water balance of a system as one parameter, referred to as the Hydro Salinity Factor, a simple mathematical model can be postulated to determine some of the unknown factors involved in the maintenance of an equilibrium salinity in a lake. The drilling programme and groundwater investigation outlined an important water resource located in the Warrion area. Already 40 bores have been drilled in this area and they produce 6.6 x 105m3 /year (800 acre feet/year). There is an annual underflow of about 1.5 x 107 m3 (12,000 acre feet). This quantity is well within the 'safe yield' of the area and further development should be encouraged, but because of the presence of the large number of saline lakes in the area, saline water intrusion into the basalts would rapidly occur if the groundwater levels are lowered beneath the lake levels.