Palaeogeographic, climatic and tectonic change in southeastern Australia: the Late Neogene evolution of the Murray Basin

Sandra McLaren, Malcolm W. Wallace, Stephen J. Gallagher, John A. Miranda, Guy R. Holdgate, Laura J. Gow, Ian Snowball, Per Sandgren

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


The Murray Basin is a low-lying but extensive intracratonic depocentre in southeastern Australia, preserving an extraordinary record of Late Neogene sedimentation. New stratigraphic and sedimento-logic data allow the long-term evolution of the basin to be re-evaluated and suggest a significant role for: (1) tectonism in controlling basin evolution, and (2) progressive and step-wise climatic change beginning in the early Pleistocene. Tectonic change is associated with regional uplift, occurring at approximately the same rate from the early Pliocene until the present day, and possibly associated with changing mantle circulation patterns or plate boundary processes. This uplift led to the defeat and re-routing of the Murray River, Australia's major continental drainage system. Key to our interpretation is recognition of timing relationships between four prominent palaeogeographic features - the Loxton-Parilla Sands strandplain, the Gambier coastal plain, palaeo megalake Bungunnia and the Kanawinka Escarpment. Geomorphic and stratigraphic evidence suggest that during the Early Pliocene the ancestral Murray River was located in western Victoria, flowing south along the Douglas Depression. Relatively small amounts of regional uplift (<200 m) defeated this drainage system, dramatically changing the palaeogeography of southeastern Australia and forming Plio-Pleistocene megalake Bungunnia. At its maximum extent Lake Bungunnia covered more than 50,000 km(2), making it one of the largest known palaeo- or modern-lakes in an intracontinental setting. Magnetostratigraphic constraints suggest lake formation c. 2.4 Ma. The formation of Lake Bungunnia influenced the Pliocene coastal dynamics, depriving the coastline of a sediment source and changing the coastal system from a prograding strandline system to an erosional one. Erosion during this period formed the Kanawinka Escarpment, a palaeo sea-cliff and one of the most prominent and laterally extensive geomorphic features in southeastern Australia. Marine sediments c. 800 ka to c. 1.16 Ma represent the time of re-establishment of depositional coastal dynamics and of a permanent outlet for the Murray River. This age range is consistent with our best estimate of the age of the youngest lake Bungunnia sediments and points towards an early Pleistocene age for the demise of the lake system. The youngest Lake Bungunnia sediment, present on a number of distinct terraces, suggests that progressive, step-wise climatic change played a role in the demise of the lake. However, in order for the ancestral Murray River system to have been able to breach the pre-existing tectonic dam, it is likely that tectonic change and/or temporarily enhanced discharge was also significant. This scenario indicates that the modern Murray River has only been in existence for at most 700 ka. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Sidor (från-till)1086-1111
TidskriftQuaternary Science Reviews
StatusPublished - 2011

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Geologi


Utforska forskningsämnen för ”Palaeogeographic, climatic and tectonic change in southeastern Australia: the Late Neogene evolution of the Murray Basin”. Tillsammans bildar de ett unikt fingeravtryck.

Citera det här