The last interglacial (MIS 5e) sea level highstand from a tectonically stable far-field setting, Yorke Peninsula, southern Australia



Publication Details

Pan, T., Murray-Wallace, C. V., Dosseto, A. & Bourman, R. P. (2018). The last interglacial (MIS 5e) sea level highstand from a tectonically stable far-field setting, Yorke Peninsula, southern Australia. Marine Geology, 398 126-136.


Yorke Peninsula in southern Australia is an important region for reconstructing relative sea-level histories due to its location on the eastern margin of the tectonically stable Gawler Craton and in one of the world's geographically most remote far-field locations from the Pleistocene ice sheets. Richly fossiliferous, skeletal carbonate sands of the last interglacial (125 ka) Glanville Formation crop out in the coastal cliffs along large sectors of southern Yorke Peninsula. Sedimentary facies include deepening-upward intertidal to shallow subtidal facies, relict storm beach facies and cobble and boulder beach deposits in more exposed, higher energy locations. During deposition of the Glanville Formation, southern Yorke Peninsula had a different coastal geography with two prominent marine corridors extending across the southern-most portion of the entire peninsula. In a 3 km long coastal cliff section in southern Hardwicke Bay, the Glanville Formation crops out as an upward-deepening intertidal-subtidal succession capped by supratidal and subaerially-exposed sediments with pervasive calcrete development. The sedimentary succession passes upwards from a basal unit of intertidal sand flat facies with abundant gastropods (Batillaria diemenensis) near the upper bounding (disconformity) surface, upwards into richly fossiliferous shelly sands (coquina) representing a shallow subtidal facies formed by sediment aggradation in response to a relative sea-level rise. The subtidal facies is dominated by the bivalve molluscs Katelysia sp. and Amesodesma angusta, signifying a water deepening event. The subtidal facies is in turn overlain by pedogenically modified skeletal carbonate sands with pervasive calcrete development signifying a relative sea level fall at the end of the Last Interglacial Maximum. The upper-bounding surface of the shallow-water subtidal facies ranges from 2.4 to 3.0 m Australian Height Datum (AHD) and by analogy with modern sedimentary environments suggests a maximum palaeo-sea level of 4.8 ± 1.0 m during the Last Interglacial Maximum. Uranium-series ages of 127.3 ± 2.1 to 115.0 ± 5.4 ka on specimens of the solitary coral Plesiastrea versipora from the subtidal facies confirm that the succession was deposited during the Last Interglacial Maximum, and are consistent with the independent stratigraphical evidence that the highstand event was represented by a single phase of relative sea-level rise. Correlation with other occurrences of the Glanville Formation in southern Australia has also been confirmed by aminostratigraphy.

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