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Title: Geochemical investigation of the South Wellesley Island wetlands: Insight into wetland development during the Holocene in tropical northern Australia
Authors: Mackenzie, L
Heijnis, H
Gadd, P
Moss, P
Shulmeister, J
Issue Date: 28-Sep-2016
Publisher: Sage
Citation: Mackenzie, L., Heijnis H., Gadd, P., et al. (2016). Geochemical investigation of the South Wellesley Island wetlands: Insight into wetland development during the Holocene in tropical northern Australia. doi:
Abstract: The South Wellesley Islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia, were the recent focus of a palynological investigation which found vegetation change during the Holocene was driven by coastal progradation and regional climate. Here, we present new elemental data from x-ray fluorescence core scanning which provides non-destructive, continuous and high resolution analysis from three wetlands across Bentinck Island, the largest of the South Wellesley Islands. Elemental data and grain size analyses are combined with lead-210 (210Pb) and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) carbon-14 (14C) dates. An open coastal environment was present 1250 cal. a BP on the south east coast of Bentinck Island, with sediment supply incorporating fluvial deposition and detrital input of titanium and iron from eroding lateritic bedrock. Prograding shorelines, dune development and river diversion formed a series of swales parallel to the coast by ~800 cal. a BP, forming the Marralda wetlands. Wetlands developed at sites on the north and west coasts ~500 and ~450 cal. a BP, respectively. Geochemical and grain size analyses indicate that wetlands formed as accreting tidal mudflats or within inter-dune swales that intercepted groundwater draining to the coastal margins. The timing of wetland initiation indicates localised late-Holocene sea level regression, stabilisation and coastal plain development in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Elemental data provide new records of wetland development across Bentinck Island, highlighting the value of a multi-proxy approach to understanding environmental change during the Holocene in tropical northern Australia.
ISSN: 1477-0911
Appears in Collections:Journal Articles

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