Voyage to solve riddle of shifting sands
6 May 2003
The first geological expedition to the south-eastern Gulf of Carpentaria to gather information about its evolution was launched on 6 May from Port Cairns by Warren Entsch, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources.
A team of 12 scientists from Geoscience Australia will collect marine samples and underwater footage during the expedition to solve the riddle of the shifting sands in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
"The area is rich in biological diversity with sea grass beds providing habitats for marine species such as dugongs, fringe reef corals and sea turtles. They also support the local fisheries including a thriving prawn industry", said Warren Entsch, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, as he launched the expedition from Port Cairns.
"The majority of Australia's river-borne sediments - made up of sand, rocks and silt - never make it to the ocean. Instead they travel from rivers to coastal estuaries, where they are trapped as part of underlying sediments", said Dr Peter Harris, expedition Chief Scientist from Geoscience Australia.
"The Gulf of Carpentaria is Australia's largest exception with over half the sediments on its sea-floor originating from rivers in adjacent catchments. This unique area gives us the perfect opportunity to study the effects of inland sediments in marine environments", added Dr Harris.
"This is extremely important because of the Gulf's marine resources and potential environmental impacts from commercial activities including proposed mining in the adjacent river catchments, the fishing industry, shipping and dredging", said Warren Entsch.
The Gulf of Carpentaria falls within Australia's next regional marine planning area which has been approved by the National Ocean's Ministerial Board of which Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, is a member.
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