Aminostratigraphy and sea-level history of the Pleistocene Bridgewater Formation, Mount Gambier region, southern Australia
A geochronological framework based on amino acid racemisation (AAR) and constrained by previously reported optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages is presented for the evolution and paleosea-level record of the Pleistocene Bridgewater Formation of the Mount Gambier region, of southern Australia. Within the study area, the Bridgewater Formation is represented by late early Pleistocene [Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 23 at 933 ka] to Holocene barrier shoreline successions deposited during sea-level highstands. Regional monotonic uplift (0.13 mm yr-1) and pervasive calcrete development during the Pleistocene have preserved the sequence of calcarenite (mixed quartz-skeletal carbonate sand) shoreline complexes from denudation. AAR analyses confirm that the barriers generally increase in age landwards and correlate with sea-level highstands associated with interglacials as defined by the marine oxygen isotope record. AAR analyses on the benthic foraminifer Elphidium crispum have proved more reliable than the whole-rock method in extending the age range of AAR dating of these relict shoreline successions. Paleosea-levels from the coastal plain are as follows: MIS 7, -9 ± 2 m; MIS 9, 4 ± 1 m; and a minimum sea-level of 2 ± 2 m is derived for MIS 11. Paleosea-level could not be determined for MIS 15, 19 or 23 as diagnostic sea-level indicators were not identified within these sedimentary successions. Dismal Range, dated at 933 ± 145 ka (MIS 23), represents a correlative feature to the East Naracoorte Range but is some 25 km seaward of the Kanawinka Fault compared with the same barrier at Naracoorte. Mingbool Range (788 ± 18 ka) is of similar age to the West Naracoorte Range (MIS 19) and formed as an arcuate shoreline complex that became attached to the higher relief of the area represented by the Mount Burr Volcanic Province. The higher topographical relief resulted from crustal doming of the Oligo-Miocene Gambier Limestone caused by the intrusion of magma associated with the volcanic province. The AAR age of 788 ± 118 ka for Mingbool Range indicates that the Mount Burr volcanics predate the deposition of this shoreline complex.