Lake George revisited: new evidence for the origin and evolution of a large closed lake, Southern Tablelands, NSW, Australia. 2: earliest Pleistocene (Gelasian) environments

Michael Macphail, Keith Fifield, Bradley Pillans, Geoffrey Hope

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The three sedimentary units infilling Lake George provide the longest quasi-continuous sedimentary record of any Australian lake basin. A combination of cosmogenic nuclide burial, magnetostratigraphy and biostratigraphic dating techniques previously has shown that the basal (fluvial) unit, the Gearys Gap Formation, began accumulating at ca 4 Ma, in the early Pliocene (Zanclean), and (ii) deposition had ceased by ca 3 Ma, in the mid-late Pliocene (Piacenzian). The same techniques confirm the middle unit, the (fluvio-lacustrine) Ondyong Point Formation began accumulating in the late Pliocene and deposition continued into the earliest Pleistocene (Gelasian) when a shallow but probably laterally extensive freshwater lake extended across the drillhole site. Our data provide a minimum Gelasian age for tectonic blockage of former spillway(s) and formation of paleo-Lake George. Whether this was the earliest lake to form within the basin is unknown, since the dated intervals are separated by a ferric hardpan, interpreted as representing a prolonged period of erosion or non-deposition. Temperate rainforest angiosperms including Nothofagus growing during the late Pliocene had been extirpated or become extinct during this interval, although a number of gymnosperms, now endemic to New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Zealand and Tasmania still survived in the otherwise sclerophyll-dominated vegetation. The succession of plant communities is considered to be due to effectively drier local conditions, which in turn reflect regional aridification during the Plio-Pleistocene transition, despite the formation of a freshwater lake across the basin. The sequence provides a reliable framework for recognising and correlating Plio-Pleistocene deposits elsewhere on the Southern Highlands.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)453-468
    JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
    Volume63
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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