It has, till date, been conventionally thought that sediment plumes travel into the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from the river systems, which is being captured by the longshore current, letting them to travel no more than 10 to 15km offshore. This was thought to eventually affect only the inner Great Barrier Reef Lagoon and the inner reef corals.
But, challenging this conventional thought, a series of satellite imagery released by the CSIRO has revealed stunning evidences. This finding has confirmed the fact that sediment plumes travel not just into the inner Lagoon and reef corals, but also to the outer reef, and beyond that.
It is heavy rainfall in northern QLD around late January to early February 2007 that lead to these plume-formations. As a result, flood waters carry a larger sediment load compared to that during regular rainfall and river flow.
Long absence of such floods lead to the accumulation of material in the creeks and rivers. This, along with increased sediment runoff from the land transport terrestrial material to all areas of the affected reefs and reef waters significantly.
This is the first visual confirmation of the theory that sediment plumes travel to the outer reef, and beyond.