South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister Correspondence

comments on mcintosh report

From: Frances Daily
To: Graham Wilkinson
Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 10:33 PM
[email addresses redacted]

Dear Graham,

Comments: McIntosh report February 15, 2006

I have now had time to digest the report provided by Dr McIntosh to FPA on February 15, 2006.
I would like to make some comments.

Please note I have cc-ed both David Stapledon and Ralph Rallings on this correspondence as they are experts in this field and may have comments they wish to make.

Firstly 'Graben' described by Stapledon
In April 2005 I accompanied David Stapledon and Ralph Rallings to the South Sister where, over three days, they surveyed the coupe and surrounding area. I was with them at all times taking photos and GPS readings. I can confirm that the 'graben' and coordinates that I have recorded in my earlier emails is that which both Rallings and Stapledon viewed in April 2005 (this will I am sure be clarified by both experts).

On Stapledon's return from Tasmania, he asked me to provide a map of the areas I had taken them. I did this with trepidation as I am not a geographer and at least one of the days we were together, we had poor visibility due to rain and mist (therefore GPS readings were not particularly accurate).
This map that I made was included in David Stapledon's Proof of Evidence of May 2005 (Appendix R). It failed to mark the area we had visited which later became known as 'Stapledon's graben'.
In Stapledon's report of May 2005 he marked a 'G' on Figure 1 and also provided a sketch map (Figure 3, B - B1) that included the 'graben' feature. I now believe that the position of this 'G' on Figure 1 was wrongly located (it should have been marked further north and much closer to '5' (photo 5 position) on Figure 1. (I take responsibility for this as it was my failure to record the graben feature on the map of where I took them).

In McIntosh's report of February 15, 2006 he plots the position he considers Stapledon's 'graben' to have been found. This map uses the FT coupe map rather than the St Marys Topographical map which is more difficult to interpret due to lack of contour lines. I believe that McIntosh has also incorrectly placed Stapledon's graben relative to Stapledon's Figure 1 i.e. it is positioned in yet another place rather than the (wrong) position marked by Stapledon in his POE (Figure 1).

Despite Stapledon's incorrect plotting of 'G' on Figure 1 he mentions in his Supplementary Proof of Evidence that 'The remarkably well preserved evidence of the graben feature, located at about RL 630m on Slide B' - this is the GPS reading I have provided in the email below: 0598284E/5401219N 634 m.

In McIntosh's report (last paragraph page 1) he states about Stapledon's graben that
'The feature was marked on Stapledon's map ... and interpreted to be the surface expression of the two deep tension cracks that penetrated the sedimentary strata below the surface of the dolerite talus.'
I cannot find anywhere in Stapledon's POE or supplementary POE that he provided this information. McIntosh and Weldon have misinterpreted Stapledon's findings.

'Graben' described by McIntosh and Weldon
McIntosh states that the 'graben' found by Weldon and himself was 42 m from Stapledon's location. However, this distance of 42 m is unreliable as 1) McIntosh's map that appears in his Supplementary Proof of Evidence has now been shown (and admitted to) as being incorrect and
2) Figure 1, Feb 06 (? or probably Feb 16 - title of document and date are different) probably shows Stapledon's graben in a different position to that which Stapledon marked in his Figure 1 POE. (As mentioned above, due to the lack of contour markings and McIntosh's plotting of features on the FT coupe map rather than a topographical map it is not easy to verify).

In addition, McIntosh states that the location of 'McIntosh and Weldon graben' fitted well with Stapledon's description of a 'shallow box-like cutting'
Stapledon mentioned in his supplementary POE that 'Its sides are no longer sharp and it has probably been partly infilled' yet McIntosh, in his latest report states '... it had a ... steep rock wall on the other' and in his Supplementary report stated 'consists of a flat bench'. He went on to say that 'The closeness to Stapledon's marked location and the physical characteristics of the feature ... make it reasonable to assume that this is the feature briefly described, located and interpreted by Stapledon ...'.

I would hardly consider this to be a reasonable assumption when Stapledon stated the sides are no longer sharp and partly infilled and McIntosh states there was a steep wall on the other and consisted of a flat bench!

I have no doubt that both Stapledon and Rallings will verify that the graben identified by McIntosh and Weldon is definitely not the 'graben' seen by them both in April 2005.

'Graben' photographed by Daily and Rallings
I am unable to confirm whether McIntosh's description of my graben is indeed the graben I viewed with Stapledon and Rallings from his description however it would be astonishing if he could not find the location after having been given the coordinates.
As I am not a geologist or engineer I am unable to comment on the technical matter in his report however he states that there are '... no signs of recent disturbance'. He gives information about the age of the trees (one greater than 100 years old) however, he makes no attempt to discuss whether this feature is indeed a graben or not.
How old is a 'recent disturbance'? McIntosh's claims that Slide B was formed over 10,000 years ago is irrelevant if there has been a movement in the past few hundred years. He avoids any discussion about this.
His conclusion about this area is that it '... is considered unlikely to be the 'graben' described by Stapledon'. If indeed McIntosh has located the 'graben' feature as described by Stapledon in May 2005, he is wrong that this is not that which was described.

Roadside batter collapse
Bullet point 4 (page 3) - McIntosh states that 'Above the batter collapse ... there are no signs of exposed soils or tension cracks ...'
He fails to mention that the 'graben' photographed by myself is quite close to this road batter collapse (perhaps 50 m away) which may be relevant.

Risk Assessment
McIntosh claims that during his employment with FPA as Senior Scientist, Soil and Water (over 6 years) he has been called upon to comment on 288 coupes.
I have a few comments about this:
6 years is not a significant time in science despite the fact landslips are likely to happen soon after logging rather than many years later.
How closely are coupes followed up?
I doubt that many are followed up at regular intervals and if so, how much of a coupe is inspected?

'In no coupe has it been recorded that harvest under imposed conditions has resulted in reactivation of pre-existing landslides'
It would be interesting to gather data about this to verify such claims. I have heard of landslides occurring in Tasmania post logging - perhaps they have not been reported or perhaps ignored. In addition, are all coupes with landslide histories identified pre logging and comments sought? With my experience from this particular coupe, it would seem many coupe features (including landslides) are not identified by planners (in this case, Slide B was never identified, subsidence over Cardiff Mine, possible subsidence over Jubilee Mine, at least 24 water points, springs etc were not identified). From the statistics provided by McIntosh, it is difficult to be sure of its accuracy. Statistics can always be misconstrued.

'... the FPA has an effective experience-based landslide assessment and environmental protection system.'
How effective is this when Slide B was not identified by FT or FPA (for at least two years and only after SOS experts alerted FT/FPA to its existence)?

Evidence from Coupe NI 114A
McIntosh claims that harvesting on South Sister was '... on one occasion at an intensity that probably approximated to the harvest intensity proposed' This claim is erroneous. Local residents will verify that there has NEVER been a 50% harvesting of the area that is currently proposed by FT. Selective saw logging yes; installation of hydro pole yes, installation of Telstra track yes but never 50% logging of the entire coupe at one time.
The Telstra track was placed in the early 70s in the eastern part of the coupe however logging was not extensive.

Graham you mention below that 'Irrespective of the apparent dispute over the location of the supposed graben it is clear that at none of the suggested locations is there any evidence of active movement'
McIntosh has not made comment about recent movement at 'my' graben i.e. he mentions that there is perhaps no evidence of movement in the past 100+ years but is this sufficient?

Instead of this emailing back and forth and ongoing confusion about whether people have identified the correct location of features, why don't you call a meeting between experts and other stake-holders as I have been proposing for the past few months? Surely things can be settled more quickly and with less confusion. It may also be cheaper.

Again I call on you to use Tasmanian expertise and invite MRT to any meetings/discussions.

I look forward to your reply.


Cc: Paul Lennon
Brian Green
Rene Hidding
David Llewellyn
Michael Polley
Michael Hodgman
Tim Morris
Peg Putt
Environment Defenders Office
David Clement
Matt Denholm
Sue Neales
Peter McIntosh
David Stapledon
Ralph Rallings

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