Kathleen Valley Hydrology Survey

In March 2022, Trace Ecology’s Erik, a Marine Biologist, was engaged by an indigenous ranger group based in the Goldfields to travel to Kathleen Valley in a ranger lead project on country. Trace Ecology’s experience working and partnering closely with Native Title Holders allows us to build and maintain relationships and work with the Traditional Owners to respect culture and country. This trip’s purpose was to assist Traditional Owners in completing the hydrology aspect of a snapshot survey of the country. This was completed on a mining proponents’ site.


Kathleen Valley, Western Australia


March 2022



Kathleen Valley, nestled within the arid expanse of the Murchison Bioregion, is characterised by its hot, dry climate and reliance on ephemeral water streams that sporadically flood during the wet season, replenishing groundwater vital for local biodiversity. A targeted survey was undertaken in this ecologically delicate area to gather baseline data pertinent to the potential impacts of a proposed mining development and accompanying infrastructure.

The survey, commissioned at the behest of the Tjiwarl Traditional Owners, was particularly focused on assessing regions of the nearby culturally significant water body that were prone to erosion or susceptible to flooding in the event of heavy rainfall. During the field excursion, the team meticulously collected 12 sediment samples from designated priority zones, carefully noting the transition points of distinct soil layers.

Additionally, strategic monitoring sites were identified and earmarked for future observation, to serve as benchmarks in assessing sedimentary changes and the consequent ecological impact. These sites are intended to facilitate a visual chronicle of any alterations to the sediment profile, offering invaluable insights for both community-led initiatives and consultancy-supported ecological evaluations.

Erik, a member of the survey team, found the expedition particularly enlightening, not only for its scientific yield but also for the cultural enrichment it offered. Engaging conversations with the Tjiwarl Traditional Owners unveiled rich narratives of the land, complementing the tangible ecological data with intangible cultural lore. Encounters with native fauna, such as frogs and tadpoles, further underscored the region's biodiversity.

Back at the office, Erik embarked on a meticulous analysis of the collected samples to ascertain their vulnerability to bedload movement. This involved sieving each sample to categorise the sediment by size and analysing the comparative composition by weight across different sites. The objective was to identify trends in composition changes and determine which areas were most at risk of flooding and which exhibited resilience.

Energised by the initial findings and the rich cultural exchanges, Erik anticipates his subsequent field visits with enthusiasm, keen to further his understanding of Kathleen Valley's unique ecological and cultural tapestry.


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