Acid Sulfate Soils

What are Acid Sulfate Soils and why should I be aware of them?

Acid Sulfate Soils are naturally occurring waterlogged soils that contain iron sulphides, such as pyrite, and are harmless so long as they are not disturbed. When the soils are exposed to air they react with oxygen to form sulfuric acid and sulfate minerals.

Urban infrastructure and development may disturb Acid Sulfate Soils, through activities such as earthworks, excavation, dredging, digging drainage channels, and lowering the groundwater table. Often the most environmentally sustainable and economically viable option is to avoid disturbing Acid Sulfate Soils.

Disturbed Acid Sulfate Soils may have some or all of the following detrimental impacts:

  • Ecological damage to aquatic and wetland ecosystems.
  • Effects on estuarine fisheries and aquaculture projects.
  • Contamination of groundwater with arsenic, aluminium and heavy metals.
  • Reduction in agricultural productivity due to soil degradation.
  • Damage to infrastructure through the corrosion of concrete and steel pipes, bridges and other sub-surface assets.
  • Potential threat to human and animal health.

Land most affected by high Acid Sulfate Soil risk in the Shire of Murray is located along the Peel-Harvey Estuary, along the Murray and Serpentine Rivers, including Furnissdale, Barragup, North Yunderup, South Yunderup, parts of Ravenswood, Stake Hill and Nambeelup.

For more information on Acid Sulphate Soils and maps visit the Department of Environment Regulation’s Website or the CSIRO Website.

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