Publication Details

Murray-Wallace, C. V., Belperio, A. P., Dosseto, A., Nicholas, W. A., Mitchell, C., Bourman, R. P., Eggins, S. M. & Grun, R. (2016). Last interglacial (MIS 5e) sea-level determined from a tectonically stable, far-field location, Eyre Peninsula, southern Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 63 (5), 611-630.


The last interglacial maximum (Marine Isotope Substage 5e [MIS 5e], 128¿116 ka) is a distinctive event in recent Earth history. Shoreline successions of this age are important for calibrating climate models and defining the overall behaviour of the crust¿mantle system to fluctuating ice and ocean-water volumes. In a global context, the recently intensified interest in last interglacial shoreline successions has revealed considerable variability in the magnitude of sea-level rise during this time interval and highlighted the need to examine paleosea-level evidence from tectonically stable, far-field settings. Situated in the far-field of continental ice sheets and on the tectonically stable Gawler Craton, the 300 km coastal sector of western Eyre Peninsula between Fowlers Bay and Lake Newland in southern Australia represents an important region for defining the glacio-eustatic (ice-equivalent) sea-level attained during the last interglacial maximum based on the relative sea-level observations from this region. Low-energy, shoaling upward, peritidal bioclastic carbonate successions of the last interglacial (locally termed Glanville Formation) formed within back-barrier, estuarine¿lagoonal environments in the lee of eolianite barrier complexes (locally termed Bridgewater Formation) along this coastline. The well-preserved shelly successions (coquinas) contain diverse molluscan fossil assemblages including species no longer living in the coastal waters of South Australia (e.g. the Sydney cockle Anadara trapezia and the benthic foraminifer Marginopora vertebralis). The extent of amino acid racemisation (a measure of fossil age based on increasing d/l value) in a range of species, and in particular A. trapezia and Katelysia sp., confirms the time equivalence of the isolated embayment-fill successions, correlated with the informal type section of the Glanville Formation at Dry Creek, north of Adelaide. Preliminary U-series analyses on A. trapezia also suggest a correlation with the last interglacial maximum, but further highlight the complexity in dating fossil molluscs by the U-series method in view of their open-system behaviour. The shelly successions of the Glanville Formation occur at elevations higher than attained by sea-level in the current, Holocene interglacial. A higher sea-level of between 2.1 ± 0.5 and 4 ± 0.5 m above present sea-level is inferred for the last interglacial maximum (MIS 5e) along this coastline based on the elevation of sedimentary successions host to the shallow subtidal¿intertidal fossil molluscs Katelysia sp., and Anadara trapezia. The paleosea-level observations place a lower limit on the sea-level attained during the last interglacial maximum and suggest that caution be exercised in the definition of the upper limit of sea-level during this interglacial.

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