Dr Peter Somerville

Honorary Associate Professor

Since 2015, I been a visiting fellow at the Fenner School working since 2015 with Prof Ian White, Dr Richard Green and co-authors on hydrology, salinity and salt loads in both the Hunter Valley (NSW) and Boorowa River, an upland tributary of the Lachlan River in central NSW. Prior to the joining the FSES, I was employed as a hydrogeologist at Geoscience Australia 2010-2014 working on the Broken Hill Managed Aquifer Recharge (BHMAR) in Darling River/Menindee Lakes in western New South Wales and on the Hydrogeochemistry of the Surat and Laura Basins in Queensland.

Research interests

Regulating abstraction, discharge and water quality in the coal-bearing upper Hunter Valley, eastern Australia. The hydrology and salinity in the Goulburn River, the major upstream tributary of the economically important Hunter River is being investigated. Planned renewals of separate surface water and groundwater sharing plans and licenses in the Hunter in 2019 require information on alterations in catchment response to climate, land use and regulation changes. Research to date  has identified a decrease in catchment specific discharge in the Goulburn since the 1970s, equivalent to the same order as the current surface and groundwater entitlements in the catchment. Over the same time period, salinity has increased. The Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme (HRSTS) regulates mine discharges in the Hunter to a target EC of 900 uS/cm, but not in the Goulburn River. Change in water entitlements or developments in the catchment are being investigated to quantify the impacts rising salinity in the Goulburn on the HRSTS target EC in the lower Hunter River.

Salinity and the sources of salts in the Boorowa River, central NSW. In the Boorowa River catchment, an upper catchment tributary of the Lachlan River in the Murray Darling Basin, high salinity and salt output/salt input (SO/SI) ratios greater than equilibrium have been documented by various researchers. Pilot programs in the catchment to alleviate salinity have demonstrated that a mix of tree cover and perennial plants would reduce salinity in the Boorowa River by up to 150 μS/cm. Beyond this threshold, further reductions in salinity are minimal and the salinity risk through evapo-concentration of salts in the landscape still persists. Previous studies in the lowland areas of the MDB indicate that the aoelian deposition is a more significant component of catchment salt load. However, there is currently no solution to the high salt loads in the regolith in some upland catchments of the MDB. The aim of this research is to quantify the contribution of mineral weathering to catchment salt load.

 

2017

  • Challenges of regulating abstraction, discharge and water quality in an alluvial, coal-bearing coastal catchment. Somerville, P.D, White, I., Imrie, J, Xu, T., Macdonald, B.C.T., Biswas, F. Submitted to Journal of Hydrology
  • Sources of salts in a coastal, unconfined alluvial aquifer system, eastern Australia, Somerville, P.D., White, I., Macdonald, B.C.T. Hydrological Processes. Draft completed, under review
  • Somerville P.D. and  White I. 2017, Regulating abstraction, discharge and water quality in an alluvial coal-bearing catchment, eastern Australia, The 44th International Association of Hydrogeologists Congress, Groundwater Heritage and Sustainability, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 25th -29th September 2017

2015

  • Ransley, T., Somerville, P.D., Tan, K.P, Feitz, A., Cook, S., Yates, G.,  Gerhard Schoning, G., Bell, J., Caruana, J., Sundaram, B. and Wallace L. 2015, Groundwater Hydrochemical Characterisation of the Surat Region and Laura Basin – Queensland. Final technical report for the National Collaboration Framework Hydrochemical Characterisation Project, Geocat #76498. Website: http://www.ga.gov.au/about/projects/water/groundwater-hydrochemical-char...

2013

  • Somerville, P.D. 2013, Groundwater response to low flow and flood events in the Darling Floodplain, western NSW, Australia. International Association of Hydrogeologists 2013 Conference, Perth, 15-20 September 2013.

2012

  • Lawrie, K.C., Brodie, R.S., Tan, K.P., Gibson, D., Magee, J., Clarke, J.D.A., Halas, L., Gow, L., Somerville, P., Apps, H.E., Christensen, N.B., Brodie, R.C., Abraham, J., Smith, M., Page, D., Dillon, P., Vanderzalm, J., Miotlinski, K., Hostetler, S., Davis, A., Ley-Cooper, A.Y., Schoning, G., Barry, K. and Levett, K. 2012. BHMAR Project: Data Acquisition, processing, analysis and interpretation methods. Geoscience Australia Record 2012/11. 826p. Website: http://www.ga.gov.au/about/what-we-do/projects/water/broken-hill-managed...
  • Lawrie, K.C., Brodie, R.S., Tan, K.P., Gibson, D., Magee, J., Clarke, J.D.A., Halas, L. 1, Gow, L. 1, Somerville, P., Apps, H.E., Smith, M., Christensen, N.B., Abraham, J., Hostetler, S. and Brodie, R.C., 2012. BHMAR Project: Geological and Hydrogeological Framework and Conceptual Model. Geoscience Australia Record 2012/12. Geocat 73820. pp 687.
  • Lawrie, K.C., Brodie, R.S., Dillon, P., Tan, K.P., Gibson, D., Magee, J., Clarke, J.D.A., Somerville, P., Gow, L., Halas, L., Apps, H.E., Page, D., Vanderzalm, J., Abraham, J., Hostetler, S., Christensen, N.B., Miotlinski, K., Brodie, R.C., Smith, M., Schoning, G., Barry, K. & Levett, K., 2012. BHMAR Project: Assessment of Conjunctive Water Supply Options Involving Managed Aquifer Recharge Options at Menindee Lakes. Geoscience Australia Record 2012/13. p 499.
  • Lawrie, K.C., Brodie, R.S., Tan, K.P., Somerville, P., Gibson, D., Magee, J., Clarke, J.D.A., Gow, L., Halas, L., Apps, H.E., Christensen, N.B., Hostetler, S., Abraham, J., Smith, M., Brodie, R.C. & Schoning, G., 2012. BHMAR Project: Assessment of Potential Groundwater Resources and Underground Storage Options in the Darling Floodplain near Menindee. Geoscience Australia Record 2012/14, p 874.
  • Lawrie, K.C., Brodie, R.S., Dillon, P., Tan, K.P., Gibson, D., Magee, J., Clarke, J.D.A., Somerville, P., Gow, L., Halas, L., Apps, H.E., Page, D., Vanderzalm, J., Abraham, J., Hostetler, S., Christensen, N.B., Miotlinski, K., Brodie, R.C., Smith, M. and Schoning, G. 2012. Broken Hill Managed Aquifer Recharge (BHMAR) Project: Assessment of conjunctive water supply options to enhance the drought security of Broken Hill, regional communities and industries - Summary report. Record 2012/15. Geoscience Australia, Canberra. 271 p.
  • Somerville, P.D, Brodie, R.S., Gow, L., Halas, L. and Apps, H.E., 2012. BHMAR Project Appendix 6: Hydrological, climate, hydrochemical and hydrodynamic data. Geoscience Australia Record 2012/17. Geocat #73824.

2010

  • Somerville, P.D. 2010, Streamwater-groundwater interactions and implications for water sharing plans in unregulated catchments: Hunter Valley, eastern Australia, PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.

2009

  • Somerville, P.D., White, I.C., Macdonald, B.C.T., Bush, R., Jasonsmith, J. Surface and groundwater connectivity and salinity in the upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales. IAH NSW, Groundwater in the Sydney Basin Symposium, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 4-5 Aug. 2009, Proceedings, W.A.Milne-Home (Ed), ISBN 9780646517094.
  • Somerville, P.D., White, I.C., Macdonald, B.C.T., Bush, R., Jasonsmith, J. Hydrology of an interacting unconfined groundwater-surface water system in the upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales. IAH NSW, Groundwater in the Sydney Basin Symposium, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 4-5 Aug. 2009, Proceedings, W.A.Milne-Home (ed.), ISBN 9780646517094.
  • Macdonald, B.C.T.,Yates, G., White, I., Somerville, P.D., Jasonsmith, J. Biswas, F. 2009, Surface and groundwater interactions and salinity dynamics in the Wollombi Brook, Hunter River Catchment, IAH NSW, Groundwater in the Sydney Basin Symposium, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 4-5 Aug. 2009, Proceedings, W.A.Milne-Home (Ed), ISBN 9780646517094. White, I.C., Macdonald, B.C.T., Somerville, P.D. and  Wasson, R. 2009, Evaluation of salt sources and loads in the upland areas of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia, Hydrological Processes 23 pp. 2485-2495. doi 10.002/hyp. 7355.

2007

  • Somerville, P.D, White, I., Macdonald, B.C.T., Welch, S.A, Bush, R. 2007, Groundwater and Stream Interactions and impact on salinity in the upper Hunter Valley, eastern Australia. XXXV IAH Congress on Groundwater and Ecosystems Conference, September 17-21, 2007, Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Macdonald, B.C.T., White, I., Somerville, P.D. 2007, Surface and groundwater interactions: water quality implications. XXXV IAH Congress on Groundwater and Ecosystems Conference, September 17-21, 2007, Lisbon, Portugal.

2006

  • Somerville, P.D, Welch, S.A., Beavis, S., Kirst, D., Kehoe, M., Beavis, F.R., Isaacson, L. 2006, Spatial and temporal variability of acidity in a coastal acid sulfate soils hotspot, Australian Earth Sciences Convention, July 3-6 2006, Mebourne, Australia.
  • Somerville, P.D., White, I., Beavis, S., Macdonald, B. & Welch, S. 2006  Groundwater and Stream Interactions in Widden Brook, upper Hunter Valley, NSW. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Volume 70, Issue 18, Supplement 1, August-September 2006, A602, abstract Goldschmidt Conference 2006, Melbourne.
  • Beavis, S., Somerville, P.D., Isaacson, I., Kehoe, M., Beavis, F.R., Kirst, D., Welch, S.A.,  Sources, sinks and fluxes of acidity in a coastal acid sulphate soil site, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Volume 70, Issue 18, Supplement 1, August-September 2006, A43, abstract Goldsmidt Conference 2006, Melbourne.

2005

  • Beavis, S., Beavis, F., Somerville, P.D. and Welch. S.A. 2005, Spatial and Temporal Variability of Acidity at a Coastal Sulfate Soil Site II: a time for change. Regolith 2005Ten Years of CRC LEME, I. Roach (ed.), Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Evolution and Mineral Exploration (CRC-LEME), Proceedings November 2005, Canberra.

2004

  • Somerville, P.D. 2004, The Contribution of Mineral Weathering to Salinity in the Boorowa River, New South Wales. Honours Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, unpublished.
  • Somerville, P.D., Beavis, S. and Welch. S.A 2004, Spatial and Temporal Variability of Acidity at a Coastal Sulfate Soil Site. Advances In Regolith, I. Roach (ed.), Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Evolution and Mineral Exploration (CRC-LEME), Proceedings November 2004 Canberra, pp. 335-359.