Prograded barriers are distinctive coastal landforms preserving the position of past shorelines as low relief, shore-parallel ridges composed of beach sediments and commonly adorned with variable amounts of dune sand. Prograded barriers have been valued as coastal archives which contain palaeoenvironmental information, however integrating the millennial timescale geological history of barriers with observed inter-decadal modern beach processes has proved difficult. Technologies such as airborne LiDAR, ground penetrating radar (GPR) and optically stimulated luminescence dating (OSL) were utilised at Boydtown and Wonboyn, in southeastern Australia, and combined with previously reported radiocarbon dates and offshore seismic and sedimentological data to reconstruct the morpho-sedimentary history of prograded barrier systems. These technologies enabled reconstruction of geological timescale processes integrated with an inter-decadal model of ridge formation explaining the GPR-imaged subsurface character of the barriers. Both the Boydtown and Wonboyn barriers began prograding ~ 7500¿8000 years ago when sea level attained at or near present height along this coastline and continued prograding until the present-day with an initially slower rate of shoreline advancement. Sources of sediment for progradation appear to be the inner shelf and shoreface with a large shelf sand body likely contributing to progradation at Wonboyn. The Towamba River seems to have delivered sediment to Twofold Bay during flood events after transitioning to a mature estuarine system sometime after ~ 4000 cal. yr BP. Some of this material appears to have been reworked onto the Boydtown barrier, increasing the rate of progradation in the seaward 50% of the barrier deposited over the past ~ 1500 years. The GPR imaged beachfaces are shown to have similar geometry to beach profiles following recent storm events and a model of ridge formation involving cut and fill of the beachface, and dune building in the backshore, explains the character of the preserved beachface record and the morphology of the ridges. This model is applicable to future management of individual beaches where such beaches are subject to ongoing cut and fill, dune building processes and inherited sediment budget conditions.
Available for download on Friday, March 30, 2018