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The intrusion of polluted Fly River mud into Torres Strait
Wolanski, E.; Petus, C.; Lambrechts, J.; Brodie, J.; Waterhouse, J.; Tracey, D. (2021). The intrusion of polluted Fly River mud into Torres Strait. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 166: 112243. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.112243
In: Marine Pollution Bulletin. Macmillan: London. ISSN 0025-326X; e-ISSN 1879-3363, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Mud dynamics; Mud mixing; Wind; Currents; Waves; Terrigenous mud; Calcareous mud

Authors  Top 
  • Wolanski, E., more
  • Petus, C.
  • Lambrechts, J., more
  • Brodie, J.
  • Waterhouse, J.
  • Tracey, D.

Abstract
    There is a concern that the Fly River plume from Papua New Guinea (PNG) may be delivering mine-derived polluted mud along the southern PNG coast into the northern Torres Strait, which is the northernmost extent of the Great Barrier Reef. To quantify this threat, the mud transport dynamics along the southern PNG coast were studied using the SLIM model. The model was qualitatively verified using historical field data on sediment dynamics and compared with more recent satellite-derived turbidity data. During strong south east winds and spring tides, about 5.4% of the Fly River mud discharge enters the Torres Strait, in agreement with previous field-derived results. The annual net movement of mud is westward, thus polluted Fly River mud progressively intrudes into Torres Strait. This intrusion is slow and may take a century to reach in significant quantities at Saibai Island, the nearest Australian island to the Fly River. Field data are needed to fully validate the model and provide greater confidence in these results.

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