Before developing salinity hazard maps or proposing management actions, it is crucial to obtain an understanding of the processes governing groundwater movement and salinity at an appropriate scale. Fundamental to understanding groundwater movement is the origin, deposition, weathering and fracture characteristics of the soil and rock that constitute the regolith. This paper describes the process involved in establishing the hydrogeological setting for an urban salinity scoping study carried out on a pilot study area in Launceston. The major factors involved in a typical hydrologic cycle are considered at the level of a desk top study of existing information, including topography, climate, land use and land use changes, surface water, geology, salt sources and salt stores, and possible groundwater flow systems. The end product is a conceptual groundwater model that can be validated by field investigations and measurements.
The companion paper describes the results of an investigation including drilling and laboratory testing.