TS-CRC Student project - Mapping and Visualizing the Geomorphology of the Arafura Swamp using Remote Sensing and GIS Technologies for Natural Resource Management

Northern Territory University

Renee Bartolo


The Arafura Swamp is a large irregular inland wetland situated in Arnhem Land, Australia. It is unique, as there are no other wetlands listed in the same aggregation. It is a near-pristine Top End floodplain, and the largest wooded swamp in the Northern Territory and possibly Australia (ANCA, 1996).

The site is of cultural significance to Aboriginal people in the area, particularly the Ramingining community. There are potential threats to the swamp in the form of the weed Mimosa pigra and too frequent wildfires (ANCA, 1996).

The project is an evaluation of different data sets in mapping the swamp's geomorphology. Through mapping the geomorphology, base maps can be created which when incorporated with vegetation and other themes, may provide a basis for natural resource management in the study area. The data sets examined are Landstat Thematic Mapper, SPOT Multi spectral and air photos at 1:50 000 scale. The scale-dependency of natural features is a crucial element in assessment of the usefulness of the data sets.

Water-bird site data collected by Parks & Wildlife of the NT will be overlaid with the geomorphology map, to determine the relationship between these two elements. It also demonstrates one of the many uses for geomorphological data. This will be incorporated in a GIS database that will include information on drainage and other morphological components. While in the field, observations on M.pigra will be recorded to be added into the GIS database. This database will have the potential to enable a user to carry out modeling procedures, and identify areas within the swamp that may need attention.

Fieldwork is currently being carried out with Parks and Wildlife. Broadscale surveying will be conducted from a light aircraft, whereas most of the groundtruthing will be conducted on foot.

The project was facilitated by the Northern Land Council, and fieldwork is being carried out with Parks and Wildlife NT.


Dr Greg Hill
Dr Chris Devonport