Integrated Catchment Management

Dating groundwater

 Research Status: Past
Moutere depression

Moutere depression


Groundwater flow in aquifers occurs in response to hydraulic gradients between their recharge and discharge areas. Strong climatic fluctuations in the Quaternary caused repeated rise and fall of sea level, leading to drastic effects on groundwater flow in aquifers. In particular, the rapid rise of sea level (around 10,000 years BP) after the last glacial maximum at 18,000 years BP is likely to have trapped "paleo" waters at deeper levels in coastal aquifers. We have identified such paleowater in the deepest Moutere Gravel aquifer.

Research Approach

Radiocarbon, oxygen-18 and chemical concentrations have been used to investigate the history of groundwater in Moutere Gravel aquifers near Nelson.

Research Results

Scientists studying an aquifer in the Nelson-Motueka area have found what they believe is the oldest fresh water in New Zealand.

The Moutere aquifer contains high quality glacial-age water more than 20,000 years old, said groundwater scientist Mike Stewart of GNS (Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd).

The aquifer, which is 400m to 500m deep, contains a large body of water which probably extends offshore into Tasman Bay.

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Recent Publications

Year Title File Size
2012 A Summary of Outcomes and selected formal publications from the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM)research programme:2000 – 2011
pdf       1.08MB
2010 Runoff generating processes in adjacent tussock grassland and pine
plantation catchments as indicated by mean transit time estimation
using tritium
pdf       2.16MB
2009 Significance of river–aquifer interactions for reach–scale thermal patterns and trout growth potential in the Motueka River, New Zealand. doc       21KB
2006 River/Groundwater Interaction Dynamics in the Upper Motueka Catchment: Progress Report pdf       271KB
2005 New Light on Streamwater Sources in the Glendhu Experimental Catchments, East Otago, New Zealand. pdf       391KB
More publications on this topic »
All ICM Publications »

Recent Presentations

Year Title File Size
2002 How old is groundwater in the Upper Motueka catchment and what does age say about groundwater?  
More presentations on this topic »
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BMPs, BEPs and Guidelines

Title Description
A National Protocol for State of the Environment Groundwater Sampling in New Zealand From website:
This document provides a step–by–step protocol for the collection of...More »  
All BMPs, BEPs & Guidelines »

Primary Contacts:

Image - Mike Stewart Mike Stewart  EmailSend email to m.stewart
Phone: 04 570 4803
Fax: 04 570 4603
Groundwater studies, isotope tracing
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Page last updated Friday, 7 September 2007

Related areas

Mechanisms of groundwater recharge Upper Motueka water resources