, Volume 591, Issue 1, pp 185–205 | Cite as

Influence of groundwater on the evaporative evolution of saline lakes in the Wimmera of south-eastern Australia

  • L. C. Radke
  • K. W. F. Howard
Salt Lakes


A hydrogeochemical study conducted in the southern Wimmera of western Victoria, south-eastern Australia reveals a small group of lakes that possess a range of chemical character so diverse that it compares to that recorded for lakes from the entire region of western Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. Principal Components Analysis and reaction path modelling using PHRQPITZ confirm that the chemical diversity of the lakes is largely inherited from the groundwater system. Three end-members (in the Eugster–Jones–Hardie framework) were identified: (i) Path 1B groundwaters transmitted via the fractures of a sandstone monolith; (ii) Path 2A-1A groundwaters derived, in part, from a limestone aquifer; and (iii) groundwaters that carry an essentially meteoric, Path 2A signature. The relative contribution of these path 1B and/or path 2A end-members largely determines the evaporative pathway (1B or 2A) that is subsequently followed, and creates a broad spread in the data. Sulphate reduction, ion exchange, silicate hydrolysis and carbonate mineral solubility also play important roles locally, in some cases displacing lake waters from one evaporation field to another. The chemical processes identified likely contribute to aquatic biodiversity in the region, due to the strong control on the ionic composition of the lakes.


Saline lakes Chemical evolution Reaction path models Biodiversity 



We gratefully acknowledge and thank the many individuals who contributed to this study. Jim Caldwell provided advice on chemical methods and Tim Barrows, Val Elder, Noemi d’Ozouville and Allison Barrie assisted with sample collection. Terry Hillman and John Pengelly kindly loaned equipment and provided major ion determinations at low cost and Chris McCauley, Jeff Hanor, Rick Forester, Jim Ferguson, Andrew Herczeg, Geoff Thomas, Lynn Chambers and Joe Donovan engaged in helpful discussions. Bruce Radke provided an airphoto interpretation of drainage patterns around Mount Arapiles, while Robert Rogers and John Martin provided additional anecdotal observations concerning hydrology in the region. Melita Keywood allowed the use of unpublished bulk precipitation analyses, while Patrick De Deckker and Peter Gell, allowed the use of unpublished lake water analyses. Funding for hydrochemical determinations and fieldwork was provided by the Rural Water Corporation of Victoria to P. De Deckker. LR was supported by a Commonwealth Postgraduate Scholarship. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at ANU (CRES) provided support and office facilities to KH during the manuscripts preparation. A final thanks to Richard Cresswell and Bill Last for their insightful reviews on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine and Coastal Environment Group, Geoscience AustraliaCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Coastal CRCGeoscience AustraliaCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Groundwater Research GroupUniversity of Toronto at ScarboroughScarboroughCanada

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