Uncovering the River Murray’s rivertrade past through multibeam bathymetry

Multibeam bathymetric datasets have been acquired of the lower River Murray as part of an ongoing investigation into widespread riverbank collapse that occurred during the peak of the Millennium Drought from 2008 to 2010, when river levels reached -1.5m AHD below sea level. Featured is one of the larger collapses that occurred at Long Island Marina, south of Murray Bridge, whereby a ~270 stretch of riverbank progressively failed without warning, taking in with it 3 cars and numerous historical river red gums.


High resolution analysis of these datasets has revealed interesting features such as granitic nunataks on the river bottom, insights into the failure debris morphologies and numerous shipwrecks around Murray Bridge.  The River Murray was a major and important inland highway for late 18th and early 19th century pastoralists, settlers and travellers, carrying cargo on paddle steamers and barges. Many of the Murray’s settlements were established based around this vital transport and supply network. Identification of the shipwrecks will add to the rich history of rivertrade on the Murray, enabling the community a glimpse through the murky waters. The wreck in this image has been identified most likely as Ship Alfred and is 30m from bow to stern. – EDC


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