Mind the gap: an absence of valley-fill deposits identifying the Holocene hypsithermal period of enhanced flow regime in southeastern Australia
The Holocene sedimentary record in southeastern Australia is present in a range of landscape settings, such as upland swamps (dells), internally drained lake basins, alluvial fans, and mid-catchment and lowland floodplains. An assessment of the best-constrained basal radiocarbon dates in valley-fill locations between 30 and 42°S and upstream of last-glacial eustatic influences yields an intriguing pattern. The record for fluvial sites with catchment areas30km2 exhibits a distinct gap in the alluvial record between 8 and 4 ka BP (10–4.5 ka). In contrast, data for eleven upland-swamp sites with catchment areas50km2 exhibit a broader spectrum of basal ages, albeit with some reduction of activity during the alluvial gap.We suggest that the period 8–4 ka BP in the sedimentary record at the fluvial sites reflects the early to mid- Holocene climatic optimum independently recognized in proxy climate data in the region. It was a period of enhanced water discharges, stable well-vegetated catchments and low sediment yields, and therefore greatly limited sediment sequestration, and it has been termed the Nambucca Phase. In upland swamps, however, threshold-driven processes produce an episodic landscape responses during much of the Holocene. Contrasting results in upland compared with middle and lower basin locations demonstrate the nonuniform landscape response to climatic changes during the Holocene in southeastern Australia.