Publication Details

Kermode, S. J., Gibling, M. R., Jones, B. G., Cohen, T. J., Price, D. M. & Daley, J. S. (2013). Determining the impact of the Holocene highstand at the coastal-fluvial interface, Shoalhaven River, south-eastern Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 38 (13), 1481-1495.


With enhanced rates of sea-level rise predicted for the next century, the upstream extent of sea-level influence across coastal plains is a topic of public importance. Australian coastal rivers provide a testing ground for exploring this issue because the area is tectonically stable, was not glaciated, and experienced a Holocene highstand between 7.4 and 2ka of up to 1.5m above Australian Height Datum (AHD). In the Shoalhaven River of New South Wales, investigation of a confined bedrock reach at Wogamia, 32km inland, has identified a unit of dark, cohesive silt and sand with marine diatoms, shell fragments, and enhanced pyrite content, interpreted as estuarine. The unit is up to 13m thick, thickens downstream, and is overlain by fluvial channel and floodplain deposits. The estuarine unit on-laps a remnant Pleistocene terrace and extends to approximately +2.2m AHD. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and radiocarbon ages suggest that estuarine deposition commenced prior to 7.8kacal bp, predating the highstand by~500years, and that marine influence in the area continued to 5.3±0.7ka. During this period, a delta probably persisted at Wogamia, where a narrow upstream reach opens out, and subsequently advanced to fill the broad Shoalhaven coastal embayment. Although the effect of sea-level rise depends on many factors, the results suggest that, during a highstand at or above present sea level, a strong marine influence may extend for tens of kilometres inland and penetrate confined bedrock reaches landward of coastal embayments.



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