Sea-level and environmental changes since the last interglacial in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia: an overview

TitleSea-level and environmental changes since the last interglacial in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia: an overview
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsChivas AR, Garcia A, van der Kaars S, Couapel MJJ, Holt S, Reeves JM, Wheeler DJ, Switzer AD, Murray-Wallace CV, Banerjee P, Price DM, Wang SX, Pearson G, Edgar N T, Beaufort L, De Deckker P, Lawson E, Cecil C B
JournalQuaternary International
ISBN Number1040-6182
Accession NumberWOS:000171354700004

The Gulf of Carpentaria is an epicontinental sea (maximum depth 70 m) between Australia and New Guinea, bordered to the east by Torres Strait (currently 12 m deep) and to the west by the Arafura Sill (53 m below present sea level). Throughout the Quaternary, during times of low sea-level, the Gulf was separated from the open waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. forming Lake Carpentaria, an isolation basin, perched above contemporaneous sea-level with outlet channels to the Arafura Sea. A preliminary interpretation is presented of the palaeoenvironments recorded in six sediment cores collected by the IMAGES program in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The longest core (approx. 15 m) spans the past 130 ka and includes a record of sea-level/lake-level changes, with particular complexity between 80 and 40 ka when sea-level repeatedly breached and withdrew from Gulf/Lake Carpentaria. Evidence from biotic remains (foraminifers, ostracods. pollen), sedimentology and geochemistry clearly identifies a final marine transgression at about 9.7 ka (radiocarbon years). Before this transgression, Lake Carpentaria was surrounded by grassland, was near full. and may have had a surface area approaching 600 km x 300 km and a depth of about 15 m. The earlier rise in sea-level which accompanied the Marine Isotopic Stage 6/5 transgression at about 130 ka is constrained by sedimentological and biotic evidence and dated by optical- and thermoluminescence and amino acid racemisation methods. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.