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Tufa Accumulations in Ephemeral Streams: observations from The Kimberley, north-west Australia

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Four types of tufa occur along creeks draining the Oscar Range in the Kimberley region of Western Australia; stream-bed tufa, tufa dams, stream-bed tufa waterfalls, and rimstone pools. Well-developed tufa dam and waterfall formations occur at significant breaks of slope within the channel long profile. This suggests that disruption of the hydraulic flow regime and increased turbulence at these points has an important role to play in determining the location of tufa deposits. However, the best-developed stream-bed tufa deposits are located immediately upstream of dam and waterfall formations, which indicates that the evaporation of water ponded behind these flow obstructions may lead to calcium carbonate precipitation during the dry season. The presence of plant and cyanobacterial communities on, and the incorporation of organic material into, the best-developed tufa formations indicates that biological activity may have an important role to play in determining both the rate of tufa deposition and the internal structure of the resulting accumulations.
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Keywords: EPHEMERAL STREAM SYSTEMS; EVAPORATION; KARST; NW AUSTRALIA; ORGANIC ACTIVITY; SEASONALLY ARID; THE KIMBERLEY; TUFA; TURBULENCE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2000

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