Luminescence dating of Quaternary alluvial successions, Sellicks Creek, South Mount Lofty Ranges, southern Australia
© 2020, © 2020 Geological Society of Australia. Quaternary alluvial and colluvial sediments infill major river valleys and form alluvial fans and colluvium-filled bedrock depressions on the range fronts and within the Mount Lofty Ranges of southern Australia. A complex association of alluvial successions occurs in the Sellicks Creek drainage basin, as revealed from lithostratigraphy, physical landscape setting and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages. Correlation of OSL ages with the Marine Oxygen Isotope record reveals that the alluvial successions represent multiple episodes of alluvial sedimentation since the penultimate glaciation (Marine Isotope Stage 6; MIS 6). The successions include a penultimate glacial maximum alluvium (Taringa Formation; 160 ± 15 ka; MIS 6), an unnamed alluvial succession (42 ± 3.2 ka; MIS 3), a late last glacial colluvial succession within bedrock depressions (ca 15 ka; MIS 2) and a late last glacial alluvium (ca 15 ka; MIS 2) in the lowest, distal portion of Sellicks Creek. In addition, the Waldeila Formation, a Holocene alluvium (3.5 ± 0.3 ka; MIS 1), and sediments deposited during a phase of Post-European Settlement Aggradation (PESA) are also identified. The age and spatial distribution of the red/brown successions, mapped as the Upper Pleistocene Pooraka Formation, directly relate to different topographic and tectonic settings. Neotectonic uplift locally enhanced erosion and sedimentation, while differences in drainage basin sizes along the margin of the ranges have influenced the timing and delivery of sediment in downstream locations. Close to the Willunga Fault Scarp at Sellicks Creek, sediments resembling the Pooraka Formation have yielded a pooled mean OSL age of 83.9 ± 7 ka (MIS 5a) corroborating the previously identified extended time range for deposition of the formation. Elsewhere, within major river valleys, the Pooraka Formation was deposited during the last interglacial maximum (128–118 ka; MIS 5e). In general, alluviation occurred during interglacial and interstadial pluvial events, while erosion predominated during drier glacial episodes. In both cases, contemporaneous erosion and sedimentation continued to affect the landscape. For example, in the Sellicks Creek drainage basin, which lies across an actively uplifting fault zone, late glacial age sediments (MIS 2) occur within the ranges and near the distal margin of the alluvial fan complex. OSL dating of the alluvial successions reported in this paper highlights linkages between the terrestrial and marine environments in association with sea-level (base-level) and climatic perturbations. While the alluvial successions relate largely to climatically driven changes, especially in major river valleys, tectonics, eustasy, geomorphic setting and topography have influenced erosion and sedimentation, especially on steep-sloped alluvial fan environments.KEY POINTS Luminescence dating of the Sellicks Creek alluvial fan complex reveals that sedimentation occurred predominantly during the later stages of glacial cycles accompanying lower sea-levels than present. Luminescence dating confirms that the stratigraphically lower portions of the Pooraka Formation are beyond the range of radiocarbon dating. Upper Pleistocene alluvial fan sedimentation at Sellicks Creek correlates with pluvial events in southeastern Australia.