Acid sulfate soils glossary and acronyms
Acid Sulfate Soil (ASS) – a soil or soil horizon which contains sulfides or an acid soil horizon affected by oxidation of sulfides. This is the definition used in Queensland’s Environmental Protection Policy. Acid sulfate soils are the common name given to naturally occurring sediments and soils containing iron sulfides (principally iron sulfide or iron disulfide or their precursors). The exposure of the sulfide in these soils to oxygen by drainage or excavation leads to the generation of sulfuric acid.
Note: The term acid sulfate soil generally includes both actual and potential acid sulfate soils. Actual and potential acid sulfate soils are often found in the same soil profile, with actual acid sulfate soils generally overlying potential acid sulfate soil horizons.
Actual acid sulfate soils (AASS) – soils containing highly acidic soil horizons or layers resulting from the aeration of soil materials that are rich in iron sulfides, primarily sulfide. This oxidation produces hydrogen ions in excess of sediment’s capacity to neutralise the acidity resulting in soils of pH of 4 or less when measured in dry season conditions. These soils can usually be identified by the presence of yellow mottles and coatings of jarosite.
Potential acid sulfate soils (PASS) – soils which contain iron sulfides or sulfidic material which have not been exposed to air or oxidised. The field pH of these soils in their undisturbed state can be pH 4 or more and may be neutral or slightly alkaline. However, they pose a considerable environmental risk when disturbed, as they will become very acidic when exposed to air and oxidised.
AASS – actual acid sulfate soil.
Acidic Black Water – acidic black water is a common characteristic of surface water and shallow groundwater aquifers of lowland coastal regions in south-eastern Queensland. The dark colouration and acidity is attributed to humic acids derived from decaying vegetation.
Accommodation – the void available to be filled by sediments arriving within an embayment from longshore and fluvial sources between the ocean surface and the seafloor beneath.
Action Level – of oxidisable sulfur is the level for that texture class above which active management or treatment of the material will be required if disturbed.
Aeolian – sediment deposits comprising wind-blown material, usually sands.
AHD (Australian Height Datum) – mean sea level based on official tide gauges around the coastline.
Alluvial – material deposited by water moving across the land surface.
ASS – acid sulfate soil.
Barrier – a narrow elongate sand ridge extending parallel with the shore and separated from it by a lagoon. The ridges typically rise slightly above the high tide level.
Barrier Estuary – tide affected coastal water body whose opening to the sea is formed by a moving sand barrier bar which is continually being formed by wave and wind action.
Batters – the sloped sides of the wall surrounding an extraction pond.
Beach Ridge or Beach-ridge Plain – beach ridges are successive upper-shoreface deposits that have been deposited seaward of their predecessors on a prograding shoreline. They are usually separated by narrow swales (depressions) of varying width and depth depending on how closely the successive ridge crests have been formed (Rhodes 1980). A broad sequence of such ridges is called a beach-ridge plain.
Best Practice Environmental Management (BPEM) – Section 18 EPA: the management of the activity to achieve an ongoing minimisation of the activity's environmental harm through cost-effective measures assessed against the measures currently used nationally and internationally for the activity.
B.P. – before present.
BSES – Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations.
Chenier or Chenier Plain – discrete, elongated sand and/or shell bodies stranded on a coastal mudflat or marsh. They are generally widely separated from other ridges, and where they are distributed across a wide plain, that feature is described as a ‘chenier plain’. Russell and Howe (1935) first described the occurrence of a series of discrete long, narrow, sandy ridges dispersed across the marshes of southwestern Louisiana coast. These features which run roughly parallel to the Louisiana coastline support a luxuriant cover of large evergreen oak trees, and hence the derivation of their name ‘cheniers’ adopted by the local Creole inhabitants of that area from the French word for oak.
Cement Kiln Dust – referred to as ‘lean lime’—a by-product of the cement manufacturing process.
Coffee Rock – sands hardened by organic compounds high in aluminium.
CSIRO – Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Designated Development – (under legislation) – required to make an application for approval if it is believed that there could be deleterious effect on the environment; examples include aquaculture developments, marinas >30 moorings, creation of water bodies >0.5 ha, developments in tidal wetlands or below the floodline.
DPI – Queensland Department of Primary Industries.
Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) – Section 3 EPA: allowing development that improves the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends.
ENV - Effective Neutralising Value.
Entrainment – the process of solid particle uptake in a moving stream of fluid, resulting in the transport of those particles.
Environmental Evaluation – Section 71 EPA: an environmental audit or investigation of an activity to decide the source, cause or extent of environmental harm caused by the activity, and the need for an environmental management program.
Environmental Harm – Section 14 EPA: any adverse effect, or potential adverse effect (whether temporary or permanent and of whatever magnitude, duration or frequency) on an environmental value. May be caused by direct or indirect result of an activity.
Environmental Management Program – an environmental management program approved under Chapter 3, Part 6 of the EPA, to achieve compliance with the Act by reducing environmental harm, or detailing the transition to an environmental standard.
Environmental Protection Policies (EPPs) – environmental protection policy approved under Chapter 2 of the EPA.
Environmental Value – Section 9 EPA: a quality or physical characteristic of the environment that is conducive to ecological health or public amenity; or another quality of the environment identified and declared to be an environmental value under an environmental protection policy or regulation.
Environmentally Relevant Activities (ERAs) – an activity in Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection Regulation, 1998.
Estuary – a simple geomorphological definition of an estuary is “...a funnel shaped opening of a river in the sea” (Reinick and Singh 1980). Other definitions include criteria such as being tidally effected and dilution of marine and fresh water. A generally accepted definition is that of Pritchard (1967) who describes an estuary as “...a semi-enclosed coastal body of water which has free connection with the open sea and within which sea water is measurably diluted with fresh water derived from land drainage”. A more recent geologically orientated definition by Dalrymple, Zaitlin and Boyd (1992) has recognised that estuaries form by the drowning of river valleys as sea level rises, and recognise the limits of an estuary by sedimentary criteria. They define an estuary as “...the seaward portion of a drowned valley system which receives sediment from both fluvial and marine sources and which contains facies influenced by tide, wave and fluvial processes. The estuary is considered to extend from the landward limit of tidal facies at its head to the seaward limit of coastal facies at its mouth” (p.1132).
EUS – also called ‘Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome’ or ‘red-spot’. A fungal skin disease of fish characterised by red lesions, which may cause fish deaths.
Eustatic sea level change – pertaining to worldwide sea level changes that affect all the oceans. Caused by major subtraction or addition of water as it becomes locked into major ice bodies during glacial periods and subsequently released during warmer melting phases.
ENV – Effective Neutralising Value.
Facies – a sedimentary body differentiated from adjacent bodies based on aspect, appearance and characteristics which reflect similar conditions of origin.
Fishery – includes activities by way of fishing, including, for example, activities specified by reference to all or any of the following – a species of fish, a type of fish by reference to sex, size or age or another characteristic, an area, a way of fishing, a type of boat, a class of person, the purpose of an activity, the effect of an activity on a fish habitat, whether or not the activity involves fishing, anything else prescribed under a regulation.
Fish habitat – includes land, waters and plants associated with the life cycle of fish, and includes land and waters not presently occupied by fisheries resources.
Fish Habitat Area – an area declared under a regulation to be a Fish Habitat Area. Fish Habitat Areas are declared to protect critical wetland habitats that sustain fisheries – Sections 120 and 121, Fisheries Act 1994 giving statutory protection to key habitats to ensure long term fisheries production.
Fisheries Resources – include fisheries habitat, marine fauna (including invertebrates) or flora (including mangroves and seagrasses).
Fluvial – of, or pertaining to a river or rivers.
Framboidal – a description of crystal morphology, signifying a shape akin to the skin of a strawberry or raspberry.
Geomorphology – the science that examines the general configuration of the Earth’s surface; specifically the study of the classification, description, nature, origin, and development of present landforms and their relationship to underlying structures, and of the history of geologic changes as recorded by these surface features (Bates and Jackson 1987; p.272).
Geoscience – a broad term encompassing a wide range of earth sciences, and including groundwater sciences.
Habitat – the native environment or kind of place where a given animal or plant naturally lives or grows, e.g. warm seas, supratidal areas, backswamps.
Histopathology – a diagnostic procedure which shows changes in (animal/fish) tissue through a tissue cross-section and microscopic appraisal.
Holocene – a period of time from about 10,000 years ago to the present, an epoch of the Quaternary period.
Holocene transgression – Holocene is the name of a geological time period (or ‘epoch’) commencing ~10,000 years ago and extending to present. Transgression is the term used to describe the progressive marine incursion of the land surface as sea level rises.
Horizon - with reference to soils, a layer of soil, approximately parallel to the land surface, with morphological properties different from layers below and/or above it.
Hydroisostatic – as sea level rises over broad continental shelves the additional weight of the water creates subsidence on the outer shelf which is compensated for by a rise of the inner shelf and coastal plain. This can be visualised as a giant ‘see-saw’ acting over a fulcrum toward the inner-mid shelf region.
Hydrosluicing – the separation of fine and coarse particles by pumping water and sediment through a nozzle.
Hydrosols – an order of soils described in the Australian Soil Classification (Isbell 1996) as seasonally or permanently wet soils. The greater part of the profile is saturated for prolonged periods (2–3 months) in most years.
Impoundment - may occur in estuaries and similar environments when a barrier to normal tidal flushing has been created by geological activity, storm action, or human activity (e.g. floodgate construction). Still water becomes trapped behind the barrier and may provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Interburden – in mining, a layer of material unsuitable for processing which occurs as a layer within a resource deposit. Often clay or marine clay.
Iron Floc – particulate deposits of iron (ferric) compounds which form a ‘coat’ on all surfaces.
Jarosite – ochre-yellow or brown hydrous iron sulfate mineral: KFe3(SO4)2(OH)6.
Leachate – the soil constituent that is washed out from a mixture of soil solids.
Lyngbya – (L. majuscula) a cyanobacterial algae requiring phosphorus and iron in seawater for growth; forms blooms in warm weather in Moreton Bay.
Marine Plant – Section 8 Fisheries Act 1994 includes the following:
- a plant (a “tidal plant”) that usually grows on, or adjacent to, tidal land, whether it is living, dead, standing or fallen;
- material of a tidal plant, or other material on tidal land; and
- a plant, or material of a plant, prescribed under a regulation or management plan to be a marine plant.
“Marine plant” does not include a declared plant under the Rural Lands Protection Act 1985.
Monosulfides – (FeS) Fe III is reduced to Fe II by bacterial action and then combines with dissolved sulfides to form FeS. Commonly found in drains.
Moribund – in a dying state.
Morphology – the shape, structure and form of the earths surface.
Nearshore – the area extending from the low water shoreline to the generally less than 10m depth or beyond the breaker zone.
NHT – Natural Heritage Trust.
Noxious substance – anything that:
- is harmful, or produces conditions that are harmful, to fisheries resources or fish habitats; and
- is prescribed under a regulation or management plan to be a noxious substance.
The department – Natural Resources and Water.
NSW – New South Wales.
Open Marsh Water Management (OMWM) – can incorporate several types of channels and may create permanent ponds for fish and focuses on maintaining marsh hydrology. Runnelling is a minimal form of OMWM.
Overburden – a layer of material which is unsuitable for processing, and which overlies the resource deposit. Usually consists of loams and clays.
Oxidise – the process of reacting with oxygen.
Paleo – a prefix indicating a remoteness of time.
Palaeosol – ancient buried soil.
PASS – Potential acid sulfate soil.
Piezometer – device to measure groundwater movement.
Pleistocene – the name of a geological time period (or ‘epoch’) commencing 1.8 million years ago and extending to ~10,000 years ago, it is an epoch of the Quarternary period.
Polluting matter – litter, soil, a noxious substance, refuse or other matter on land, in waters, on marine plants or in a fish habitat.
Progradation – the building forward (advancement) in a seaward direction of a shoreline or coastline.
Pyrite – pale-bronze or brass-yellow, isometric mineral: FeS2; the most widespread and abundant of the sulfide minerals.
QASSMAC – Queensland Acid Sulfate Soils Management Advisory Committee.
Quaternary – a geological time period extending from 1.8 million years ago to present time; incorporates both the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs.
QFS – Queensland Fisheries Service.
Raw Material, Raw Feed – the untreated material excavated from the resource deposit and transported to the head of the wash plant.
Strategic Re-burial – strategic re-burial (sometimes referred to as re-interment) involves the planned creation of a void in which to bury potential ASS. This technique is based on the principle of maintaining the potential ASS in anoxic, preferably anaerobic conditions at all times.
Referral Agency (under legislation) – can request that an acid sulfate assessment be carried out; examples include Local Government and several Government Departments.
Refusal – the depth at which it is no longer possible or no longer practical to advance a bore hole or test pit with the equipment being used.
Resource – the geological deposit consisting predominantly of sand but also containing various percentages of other materials such as clay, silt, and gravel.
Runnels – in estaurine management, these are shallow spoon-shaped channels <30 cm deep and width:depth ratio 3:1. Runnels connect isolated pools to each other and to a tidal source thus facilitating enhanced water flow. Fish and predatory organisms can gain access to pools to eat mosquito larvae.
Seismic facies analysis – geological interpretation of seismic reflection patterns generated by vibration impulses that are converted into electrical voltage.
Seismic (surveying) – the word seismic refers to the propagation of waves of energy through elastic solid bodies (i.e.. in the case of geology rocks and sediments). In geological surveying seismic waves, which are created by artificial sources, penetrate the earth’s surface (i.e.. the seafloor in marine surveys), and are reflected from boundaries between rock or sedimentary strata with different acoustic impedances back to the surface where they are recorded by instruments. This method allows the mapping of subsurface strata over wide areas. In coastal studies shallow penetration seismic surveying techniques with an emphasis on resolving sedimentary structures in detail are commonly used.
Selective Ditches – are steep-sided, often narrow and with an average of 50–75 cm depth (sometimes as deep as 150 cm). Ditches are used to enhance tidal flushing or to increase retention of tidal water in parts of a marsh. Ditches can have a major impact on hydrology.
Source Reduction – the reduction or removal of mosquito larvae habitats through physical habitat modification.
SPP 2/02 – State Planning Policy for planning and managing developments involving acid sulfate soils.
SPT Split Tube – a standardised split tube which is used for Standard Penetration Testing (SPT).
Sub-aerial – conditions and processes that operate in the open air (i.e.. above water level).
Stillstand – a stabilisation of the mean sea level in relation to land elevation, along the east coast of Australia it is generally accepted that the most recent stillstand commenced about 6,500 years ago.
Supratidal – the shore area above the high tide level.
Tertiary – a period of time between sixty five and three million years ago, prior to the Quaternary period.
Tidal land – includes reefs shoals and other land permanently or periodically submerged by waters subject to tidal influence.
Transgression – the spread of extension of the sea over land areas.
Ultisol – ‘Soil Taxonomy’ term meaning clay soils with low base saturation.
Vibro-vacuum coring (vibrocoring) – a coring device that drives a barrel into soft sediment using vibration. A vacuum is applied to the top of the barrel in order that sediment distortion is minimised during coring and retrieval.
Wash Plant – series of meshes, tanks and cyclones used to separate the product grade sand from unusable silt and clay fraction.
Wash Plant Return, Returns – the water from the tail end of the wash plant which contains the silt and clay fractions and is discharged back to the pond.
Wash Water – water pumped from the extraction pond and used in the wash plant to hydraulically separate out the sand fraction.
Watertable – portion of the ground saturated with water, often used specifically to refer to the upper limit of the saturated ground.
Some useful acronyms
AGSO – Australian Geological Survey Organisation.
ASSMAC – (NSW) Acid Sulfate Soils Management Advisory Committee.
ANZECC – Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council.
CASSP – Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils Program (under Australia’s Oceans Policy).
IDAS – Integrated Development Assessment System (Qld).
IPA – Integrated Planning Act (1997)
LEP – Local Environment Plans (NSW).
NatCASS – National Coordinating Group for Acid Sulfate Soils.
QASSMAC – Queensland Acid Sulfate Soils Management Advisory Committee.
QASSIT – Queensland Acid Sulfate Soils Investigation Team.
SEPP – State Environment Protection Plans.
SPP – State Planning Policy (Qld); also ASS SPP (Acid Sulfate Soils State Planning Policy).
Chemical Acronyms used for analytical procedures
POCAS – Peroxide Oxidation Combined Acidity and Sulfate method.
pHF – Field pH. (pH of soil and deionised water).
pHFOX – Field pH. (pH of soil and hydrogen peroxide).
pHKCl – pH of a 1:5 solution of soil and 1M KCl.
SCR – Chromium reducible sulfur.
SPOCAS – Suspended Peroxide Oxidation Combined Acidity and Sulfate method.
SPOS% – Peroxide Oxidisable Sulfur.
TAA – Total Actual Acidity.
TPA – Total Potential Acidity.
TOS – Total Oxidisable Sulfur.
TSA – Total Sulfidic Acidity.
Last reviewed 16 December 2011
Last updated 23 June 2008