The Acid Sulfate Soils Centre (ASSC) undertakes a wide range of pure and applied research projects.

A snapshot of current and recent research projects:

  • The availability of organic matter in acid sulfate soils

    Recently we have shown that the availability of organic matter to microbes is critical in determining whether acid sulfate soils with sulfuric material (pH<4) can recover (i.e. neutralise their pH following acidification). Many sub-soils have low availability of organic matter and this has resulted in lengthy (year-decadal) recovery times from disturbance. We have conducted field and laboratory experiments that has elucidated the crucial role of organic matter in acid sulfate soils.

    For examples of this research see Jayalath et al. (2016), Yuan et al. (2015, 2016), Michael et al. (2015) on the publications page.

  • Impact of drought and climate change on acid sulfate soils

    We have undertaken world leading research on the severe and long lasting effects of drought and climate change on acid sulfate soils.

    Currently we have been undertaking research for Primary Industries and Regions South Australia on how to protect the Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area in future droughts. See our business and industry webpage for more details.

    We have also just been awarded an ARC Discovery Grant award for a project titled "“Extreme soil acidification and metal release risks from increasing drought due to climate change. See our news and events webpage for more details.

    For examples of this research see Leyden et al. (2016), Yuan et al. (2016), Mosley et al. (2014), Grealish et al. (2014) on the publications page.

  • Geochemical modelling and measurement of acid neutralisation and metal speciation

    The risks to water supplies and aquatic ecosystems arising from acid drainage from acid sulfate soils and mine sites is dependent on the acid neutralisation processes and metal speciation in the receiving waters.We have made substantial advances in the measurement and modelling of acid drainage neutralisation and metal speciation.

    For examples of this research see  Mosley et al. (2015,2016), Simpson et al. (2013), Hipsey et al. (2014) on the publications page.

  • Restoration of salt fields with underlying acid sulfate soils

    Currently we have several active and completed research projects at the Dry Creek salt fields north of Adelaide. These projects included characterisation of acid sulfate soils across the site, geochemistry of saline waters and minerals, assessment of gypsum dissolution risks, and a tidal restoration trial.

  • St Kilda mangrove and saltmarsh

    In 2020, the South Australian Government became aware of the death of saltmarsh and mangrove vegetation near St Kilda, adjacent Section 2 of the Dry Creek Salt Fields. The Department for Environment and Water engaged The University of Adelaide Acid Sulfate Soil Centre to undertaken a project to develop conceptual models of the site, impact pathways and timeline, and summarise relevant scientific knowledge of the hydrology and ecology of the site and provide potential future management options for the impacted area.

    Relevant experts and stakeholders were consulted and available scientific data collated and summarised. The two conceptual site models and conditions and events at the site over time are summarised in the following report: St Kilda Mangrove and Saltmarsh Hypersaline Brine Contamination 2020.

    Read the report