There is no evidence for major impact by illegal European settlers in Australia before 1840 CE: A comment on Cook (2019)

Publication Name



Cook (2019) reviewed the timing and impact of European settlement in Australia, focusing on erosion and catchment soil loss. Cook (2019) argued that it is still reasonable to conclude that European settlers caused major environmental impacts outside the limits imposed on the colony before 1840 CE. Evidence for early, major impact by European settlers came from the first Pb dated sediment cores from Little Llangothlin Lagoon in eastern Australia (Gale et al., 1995, Gale and Haworth, 2002, 2005). An early (ca. 1810 CE) age was derived from these records based on assumptions regarding the Pb age model. The Pb age model was validated with a pollen record and a European impact “eroded soil” horizon. Since the work by Gale et al. (1995) and Gale and Haworth (2002, 2005), there have been five studies that show the pollen record and “eroded soil” horizon cannot be used as validation for the Pb record. The pollen record included a major misidentification and the “eroded soil” is actually ca. 9000 year old peat. Cook (2019) focused on only one of the five studies; a study that used a core away from the Gale et al. (1995) master core site. However, all of the other studies include cores that are effectively replicates of the original Gale et al. (1995) cores. Collectively the evidence shows that the early impact theory is no longer tenable and cannot be reasonably defended. 210 210 210 210

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)