In the Footsteps of J. Alfred Griffiths: a Cataclysmic History of Great Artesian Basin Springs in Queensland, Australia



The first systematic survey of springs of the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) was conducted between 1896 and 1898 by J. Alfred Griffiths. His survey documents 107 GAB spring-groups from western, northern and central Queensland. These springs were located and assessed by the authors between 1998 and 2000, and the results of this comparison are presented in this paper. Eighty-seven of 107 (81%) of spring-groups are no longer active. Of the remaining springs the flows of at least eight are substantially less than that witnessed a century ago. The tapping of the GAB by thousands of bores and consequent reduction of artesian pressure is clearly the overwhelming cause of diminished flows and spring inactivity. The cataclysmic loss of springs has had disastrous impacts on the biota of spring wetlands, almost certainly resulting in the extinction of endemic spring species.