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Workshop – Acid Sulfate Soils, managing challenging sites

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Online – Times in AEST

Understanding acid sulfate soils – occurrence and interpretation for consultants and project manager.

This half-day workshop is hosted by the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE) in partnership with the University of Newcastle’s Global Centre for Environmental Remediation (GCER). All presenters have over a decade of practice and research experience in the assessment and management of acid sulfate soils.

Purpose of the workshop

This workshop offers contaminated land practitioners, regulators and researchers insights into the acid sulfate soils.

Recent acid sulfate soil national guidance has been introduced to cover data gaps in state guidance and provide best practice for the assessment and management of acid sulfate soils. This workshop is designed for consultants and project managers who are not experts on this issue but need to understand, and make management decisions regarding, acid sulfate soils. The laboratory data presented can be overwhelming and the results are not easily understood.

This workshop draws together new knowledge with practical experience to provide participants with enhanced skills and knowledge to manage even the most challenging sites, regardless of their current level of experience. Attendees will learn best practice in the regulation, investigation, and risk assessment of acid sulfate soils.

Why attend?

This workshop has been designed for consultants and project managers who are not experts on this issue and will cover:

  • Up-to-date knowledge regarding acid sulfate soils, including how they form, where they are found, and how they are described
  • National guidelines on how and when to use them
  • Key laboratory methods and following the acid sulfate soils flow chart
  • The main acid sulfate soil parameters and how to measure them
  • How to interpret acid sulfate soil laboratory reports
  • How to calculate net acidity and liming rates
  • How to distinguish between acid soil and acid sulfate soil.

Workshop attendees will also receive:

  • Presenters’ PowerPoint slides* (in secured PDF, subject to presenter approval)
  • 12-month access to the workshop recording
  • a downloadable online resource folder
  • a certificate of completion (on request).

Networking opportunities

Delegates will have opportunities to build connections and relationships with their fellow participants and experts in the field, including leaders from research, industry and government.

Who should attend?

Policy- and law-makers, regulators, landowners, contamination consultants, remediation practitioners, geologists, researchers, and academics.

The workshop presenters are globally renowned researchers and practitioners in acid sulfate soils.


AUD $ 220 (inc. GST)

Student registration: AUD $ 110 (inc. GST)  Please contact Ratin Mathur (ratin.mathur@crccare.com / +61 437 224 158)

10% discount for employees of CRC CARE Participant organisations – please contact Ratin Mathur (ratin.mathur@crccare.com / +61 437 224 158). See a list of Participant organisations below.

Refund policy

Attendees can request a refund up to 7 days before the event start date. An administration fee of $50 will apply.


12:00 – 12:10 PM – Prof Ravi Naidu , University of Newcastle and CRC CARE

Welcome and Introduction

  • Outline the objectives for the workshop
  • Housekeeping.

12:10 PM – 1:00 PM – Prof Leigh Sullivan

Overview of acid sulfate soils

  • What are acid sulfate soils and how do they form?
  • Where to look for potential acid sulfate soils
  • Reduced inorganic sulphur (RIS) and acid sulfate soil terminology.

Learning outcomes – by the end of this session you will:

  • Be able to identify how acid sulfate soils form and their unique characteristics
  • Understand soil science terminology relating to acid sulfate soils
  • Be aware of the range of environments in which acid sulfate soils occur.

1:00 PM – 1:15 PM – Break

1:15 PM – 2:15 PM – Laurence Fox and Prof Leigh Sullivan

Understanding national guidance and implications

  • Current policy in all states and territories
  • Why was national guidance needed?
  • Expanded acid sulfate soils knowledge base
  • Identifying knowledge gaps in state guidance
  • Explaining the similarities and differences of State guidelines..

Learning outcomes – by the end of this session you will:

  • Understand the national guidelines and how they fit with State guidance
  • Identify which guidelines are applicable to your site
  • Be aware of some of the inconsistencies.

2:15 PM – 3:15 PM – Laurence Fox

Laboratory methods for acid sulfate soils

  • Discussion on the key testing methods
  • Calculating net acidity and liming rates
  • Interpreting field screening results
  • Examples and exercises

Learning outcomes – by the end of this session you will:

  • Understand the test methods and how the acid sulfate soil results are obtained
  • Be aware of the test methods’ shortcomings and the factors that influence laboratory results
  • Be able to make more confident decisions on further assessment and or management

3:15 PM – 3:30 PM – Break

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM – Laurence Fox

Acid sulfate soil versus acid soil – what’s the difference?

  • Interpreting laboratory results
  • Looking at supplementary information
  • Examples and exercises

Learning outcomes- by the end of this session you will:

  • Identify an acid sulfate soil and how these differ from acidic soils
  • Be aware that laboratory results only tell half the story
  • Understand the other physical factors that will help in the assessment.

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM – Laurence Fox and Prof Leigh Sullivan

Panel discussions and Live Q&A session


Laurence Fox CPSS, CSAM

Director, Fox Environmental Consulting Pty Ltd

Laurence has over 40 years’ experience in the geosciences with over 28 years in environmental management, soil surveys and contaminated land management. Having been involved in acid sulfate soil assessment and management since the mid 1990s, Laurence has recognised national expertise in the identification and management of acid sulfate soils and rocks. He has presented at national and international conferences in this field since 2002. He is currently an adjunct lecturer in contaminated land for the School of Environmental and Earth Sciences at Charles Sturt University and an active member of the National Committee for Acid Sulfate Soils (NatCASS), through which he provided peer review of the draft national guidelines.

Through running his own consultancy business, Laurence regularly prepares and presents acid sulfate soil workshops for consultants, contractors and project managers, covering identification, field screening, laboratory testing programs, management procedures and reporting.

Laurence is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) with accreditation in Contaminated Sites Assessment and Management (CSAM) through Soil Science Australia.

Professor Leigh Sullivan

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation) and Vice-President University of Canberra

Professor Leigh Sullivan has an international reputation for his research in geochemistry, especially on acid sulfate soils and carbon biosequestration. He has published over 300 articles, books and chapters. He was the Chair of the International Union of Soil Sciences’ Acid Sulfate Soil Working Group in 2002-2010 and then again in 2014-2018. He has secured international patents arising from his research activities and is currently a director of two R&D companies formed to commercialise these intellectual properties.

Leigh has contributed to the development of numerous environmental policies and activities both as chair and member of advisory committees for State and Commonwealth Governments and statutory authorities. Most recently he was lead author of a series of national guidance manuals on acid sulfate soil assessment and management published in 2018 for the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Leigh holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Honors) and a PhD from The University of Sydney. He joined the University of Canberra in November 2018 from Federation University Australia, where he was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation. Prior to this, he held senior roles at Federation University Australia and Southern Cross University, including Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Development), Dean, Graduate Studies, and he is the founding Director of Southern Cross GeoScience, a Special Research Centre.


Dr Dawit Bekele

Senior Research Fellow and Principal Environmental Scientist, Global Centre for Environmental Remediation (GCER), University of Newcastle, and CRC CARE.

Dawit has over 18 years of experience across consulting and research roles in environmental contaminated land management. He is a Certified Environmental Practitioner Site Contamination Specialist (SC41149) with EIANZ.