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Christmas Island Water

By Phosphate Resources in Environment

Christmas Island, despite having high rainfall (so far 4,853mm have fallen in 2016!), lacks permanent surface water, and the ground water resources are poorly understood.  Fresh water for the community is currently sourced from a series of boreholes and cave systems, for example Jedda Cave.

Planning where certain land uses should be located on the Island requires a thorough understanding of the groundwater so these vital resources are protected.  Understanding the ground water systems requires detailed analyses of soils, rocks (limestone, basalt) and the structural geology of the island such as faults, bedding, joints and related topographic features such as escarpments.

To achieve this the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD) has commissioned Geoscience Australia (GA) to investigate undertaking a groundwater mapping exercise for Christmas Island.

This will involve a scoping study (Phase 1) to review existing data and possible methods, costs and feasibility of completing a full site based mapping program (Phase 2).

Phosphate Resources Limited (PRL) has provided $75,000 towards the total cost of the Phase 1 portion of the study.

PRL has also assisted GA complete the scoping study by providing:

  • Access to geological records from works undertaken by PRL
  • Access to PRL data sets to assist with ground modelling
  • Expertise and experience on the geology of the Island, prevailing ground conditions and logistics of working on the Island

The present lack of accurate information on the Island’s groundwater resources is providing an impediment to decisions on land use and development and this may impact on future investment for sustainable development on the Island. Successful completion of the groundwater mapping project by GA will enable government and organisations to develop plans for Unallocated Crown Lands.

It is understood that GA will be submitting the findings of the Phase 1 Scoping study to the DIRD in December 2016.  Phase 2 is scheduled to be completed in early 2017 for which PRL has been in discussion with GA with respect to the provision of drilling services (including equipment and personnel).

Sources

Barrett, P.J., 2001.  Searching for Water on Christmas Island.  Helictite (2001) 37(2): 37-39.

Bureau of Meteorology at http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_200790.shtml