Lake Maurice

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Lake Maurice
Lake Maurice 0317.svg
LocationSouth Australia
Coordinates29°25′S 130°59′E / 29.417°S 130.983°E / -29.417; 130.983Coordinates: 29°25′S 130°59′E / 29.417°S 130.983°E / -29.417; 130.983
Typesalt lake
Basin countriesAustralia
Surface area29 km²

Lake Maurice (also known as Carle Thulka) is a salt lake in South Australia. It is the largest of many salt lakes in the eastern end of the Great Victoria Desert. It is normally dry, except during and after periods of heavy rainfall. When it is full, the lake covers an area of around 2,900 hectares (29 km2). It is part of the geological basin known as the Officer Basin. The smaller Lake Dey Dey is to the north. Since 1985, Lake Maurice is part of the lands belonging to the Maralinga Tjarutja, a southern branch of the Pitjantjatjara.[1][2] The community of Oak Valley is near the western shore of the lake.[1]

The exposed surface of the lake normally consists of dry clay, silt or sand, covered with a salty crust.[3] The area around Lake Maurice is very dry. Two wells have been drilled to the southeast and northwest of Lake Maurice, to search for uranium and other minerals. Both wells yield very low levels of groundwater. The water contains high levels of salt.[4] It has also been found to contain radium and sediments from the Cambrian era.[5]

History[change | change source]

The lake is named after the explorer Richard Maurice. Maurice went on at least eight expeditions to the Great Victoria Desert between 1897 and 1903. He was not the first European to pass through this region: Ernest Giles and his team had explored the area almost 20 years before. Giles saw the lake in 1875, but he did not give it a name. He described the area as barren, and wrote that he and his team found no game between Lake Maurice and the Western Australian border. Maurice, in his own expeditions, recorded information and collected specimens on the plants, animals and geology of the area. In 1904, a mining surveyor named Frank George led a prospecting expedition through this region. He used Maurice's camels and equipment and travelled northwest of Lake Dey Dey and across the border to the salt lakes in Western Australia. George named Lake Maurice, and he reported that the area was not likely to contain anything suitable for mining.[6]

The area around Lake Maurice was affected by the nuclear-weapon tests done during the 1950s. Dozens of Aboriginal families were removed from their ancestral lands and settled in towns far to the north (Ernabella), south (Yalata and Ooldea) and west (Cundeelee and Warburton). In the late 1940s, a single officer, Walter MacDougall, was sent to warn people in the area of the coming tests. The fallout from the hydrogen bombs was expected to harm or kill anyone within range. Officially, all were forced to leave their lands and were not allowed within 200 km of ground zero. Given that only one officer and an assistant were assigned to warn the people who lived across this huge area, many of the people were never informed, nor did they leave the area. Planes dropped information leaflets across the area, but the natives could not read the leaflets and were wary or afraid of the aircraft.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Odette Mazel (2006). "Returning Parna Wiru: Restitution of the Maralinga Lands to Traditional Owners in South Australia". In Marcia Langton (ed.). Settling with Indigenous People: Modern Treaty and Agreement-making. Federation Press. p. 168. ISBN 9781862876187.
  2. Scott Cane (2002). Pila Nguru: The Spinifex People. Fremantle: Fremantle Art Centre Press. p. 95. ISBN 9781863683487.
  3. Officer Basin Energy Pty Ltd (September 2007). "Environmental impact report: geophysical operations in the Officer Basin, South Australia" (PDF). Government of South Australia, Department of Primary Industries and Regions. p. 11.
  4. Vic Waclawik (24 February 2012). "Cyclone Zircon Project Groundwater Feasibility Study" (PDF). Australian Groundwater Technologies. pp. 8–12, 39. 1148-11-DAN.
  5. A. M. Giblin; B. L. Dickson (September 1984). "Hydrogeochemical interpretations of apparent anomalies in base metals and radium in groundwater near Lake Maurice in the Great Victoria Desert". Journal of Geochemical Exploration 22 (1–3): 361–362. 
  6. B. J. O'Neil (1997). J. G. G. Morton and J. F. Drexel. ed. "History of Petroleum Exploration" (PDF). The petroleum geology of South Australia. Report Book (Adelaide: Government of South Australia, Department of Mines and Energy Resources) 3 (97/19): 8–9. 
  7. Tom Gara. "Walter MacDougall and the Emu and Maralinga Nuclear Tests" (PDF). History Trust of South Australia. Retrieved 1 April 2013.

Other websites[change | change source]