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Pleistocene glaciation of the King Valley, Western Tasmania, Australia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Sean J. Fitzsimons
Affiliation:
Department of Geography and Oceanography, Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales, Campbell, ACT 2601, Australia
Eric A. Colhoun
Affiliation:
Department of Geography, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia

Abstract

Analysis of the geomorphology, geology, and palynology of deposits in the King Valley permits the identification of four glaciations and two interglaciations and has led to a revision of the Pleistocene stratigraphy of the West Coast Range. The oldest late-Cenozoic deposits in the valley appear to predate glaciation, contain extinct pollen types, and are probably of late-Tertiary age. Overlying deposits of the Linda Glaciation show intense chemical weathering and have a reversed detrital remanent magnetization indicating deposition before 730,000 yr B.P. The highly weathered tills are conformably overlain by organic deposits of the Regency Interglaciation which show a transition from montane scrub rainforest to lowland temperate rainforest. Deposits formed during the later Moore Glaciation record advances of the King Glacier and glaciers from the West Coast Range. A pollen-bearing fluvial deposit records an interstade during this glaciation. On the basis of weathering rinds, amino acid dating, and palaeomagnetism the deposits are estimated to have formed between 730,000 and 390,000 yr B.P. The Moore Glaciation deposits are overlain by sediments of the Henty Glaciation which are believed to predate 130,000 yr B.P. These deposits record multiple advances of the King Glacier and the development of a large lake during an interstade. Deposits of the subsequent Pieman Interglaciation consist of organic fine sands and silts that record a lowland scrub rainforest. Deposits of the last (Margaret) glaciation are restricted to small areas in the northern part of the valley. Although the most recent ice advance culminated after 19,000 yr B.P., evidence of older deposits of the Margaret Glaciation suggests that an early last-glaciation ice advance may have occurred. When combined with earlier studies, the recent work in the King Valley has provided one of the more complete records of Pleistocene glaciation in the Southern Hemisphere. Comparison of the deposits with the record of glaciation in southern South America and Westland, New Zealand, suggests some similarities exist between pre-last-glaciation events and indicates that glacial events in Southern Hemisphere middle latitude areas were synchronous during the last glaciation.

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