Queensland and Northern Australia Moorings


The Queensland and Northern Australia Moorings sub-facility is responsible for moorings located in the northern tropics along the Great Barrier Reef, which is within the region of the Q-IMOS Node and  in the east and in the north western parts of Australia, which is within the WA-IMOS nodes domain. The mooring arrays provide near real time and delayed mode observations from oceanographic moorings comprising physical (temperature, salinity, sea level and currents) and water quality measurements (turbidity, fluorescence, dissolved oxygen).

The GBR array is located along the outer Great Barrier Reef in order to monitor the Western Boundary currents of the Coral Sea comprising the poleward East Australian Current and the equatorward Gulf of Papua Current. The array is designed to detect any changes in circulation, temperature response, mixed layer depth and ocean-shelf exchanges.

North west array consist of continental shelf moorings that complement a deep water array monitoring the Indonesian Throughflow in the Timor Trough and Ombai Strait. In early 2012 two more arrays were added off the Kimberley and Pilbara continental shelf regions. The arrays aimed to monitor boundary currents such as the Holloway and Leeuwin Currents. Cross-shelf exchanges are also observed in these high energy macro-tidal and internal wave dominated shelves. The Pilbara and Kimberley arrays have now been decommissioned.

Two near real-time moorings National Reference Stations are also operated in this region near Darwin and the Yongala Wreck in the lagoon of the GBR. The Beagle Gulf mooring extends seaward oceanographic observations from Darwin Harbour and complements the National Reference Station. The marine observing systems deliver the information needed to support the development and operational management of ports and harbours. Most ports and harbours are multi-use regions supporting industry and recreational activities, and observing systems play an important role in both port operations, and in generating understanding of processes that impact the sustainable use and development of these areas (e.g. sediment transport, water quality).

Instrumentation and Data

The Queensland Great Barrier Reef (GBR) regional moorings include Myrmidon Reef and Palm Passage in the Central GBR and Capricorn Channel, Heron South and One Tree East in the Southern GBR. The objective is to observe the cross-shelf exchange of water between the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef, with the design allowing water moving along and onto the Great Barrier Reef to be measured by monitoring the southward flowing East Australian Current and the equatorward Gulf of Papua Current. The moorings hold a range of instrumentation including Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) and WetLabs Water Quality Meters (WQMs) that measure current velocity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, fluorescence, temperature and depth.

In Northern Australia, four regional shelf moorings are located in the Timor Sea, extending from the Timor Trough to Joseph Bonaparte Gulf. These moorings comprise the Indonesian Throughflow Shelf Transect, which was deployed in June 2011.  This was an important first step in the enhanced monitoring of northern Australian waters.  These shelf moorings complement the Deep Water Moorings that have be deployed in the Timor Passage and Ombai Strait to monitor inter-basin Indian-Pacific Ocean exchange.

The Darwin National Reference Station (NRS), is one of only seven such facilities in Australia. Deployed on a channel marker at the start of the fairway, it has been providing valuable information to the Darwin Port Corporation since 2009. Sensors on the reference station provide data on over 30 parameters every 30 minutes. These include wind direction and speed, wave height and water velocity. In partnership between the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Darwin Port Corporation (DPC) a second mooring was added in the Beagle Gulf. The mooring was upgraded to near real time in September 2014.These moorings will expand our understanding of the factors influencing coastal systems and serve as an early warning system. It will provide alerts of approaching weather and allow forecasting of waves and current at key sites along the shipping channel.

Moorings in the Northwest Shelf have been decommissioned.

Useful links


Craig Steinberg



CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere

Darwin Port



Your access to IMOS Queensland and Northern Australian Moorings data discovery and exploration is through the  Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN) Portal.