Tunnel erosion initiated by feral rabbits in gypsum, semi-arid New South Wales, Australia

John Pickard*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    9 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Extensive gypsum deposits are widespread across semi-arid southern Australia in winter rainfall areas. In western New South Wales, gypsum occurs in broad shallow depressions in very gently undulating plains. A tunnel system has developed on the margin of the Conoble Gypsum Mine. Feral rabbits dig burrows and warrens in the relatively soft gypsiferous soils. Infrequent heavy rain caused localised flooding that drained down rabbit burrows into the abandoned mine via tunnels. Burrows have expanded by collapse and erosion to form holes up to 3 m diameter and 1.8 m deep. A network of expanded tunnels up to 0.5 m diameter links these holes. A large tunnel 1.5 x 1.0 m runs some 20 m into the mine. Measurements of collapse holes from 1983 to 1996 show low (and episodic) rates of expansion (erosion and collapse). The tunnels are entirely localised to the edges of the mine and are an interesting geomorphological curiosity illustrating interactions between substrate, climate, animals and mining.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)155-166
    Number of pages12
    JournalZeitschrift fur Geomorphologie
    Volume43
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 1999

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