Climates of the last three interglacials in subtropical eastern Australia inferred from wetland sediment geochemistry

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Kemp, CW
Tibby, J
Arnold, LJ
Barr, C
Gadd, PS
Marshall, JC
McGregor, GB
Jacobsen, GE
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Records of Australian climate during Marine Isotope Stages 5 and 7 (130–71 and 243–191 ka) are rare, preventing detailed assessments of long-term climate, drivers and ecological responses across the continent over glacial-interglacial timescales. This study presents a geochemistry-based palaeoclimate record from Fern Gully Lagoon on North Stradbroke Island (also known as Minjerribah) in subtropical eastern Australia, which records climates in MIS 7a–c, MIS 5 and much of the Holocene, in addition to MIS 4 (71–57 ka), and parts of MIS 6, MIS 3 and MIS 2 (191–130, 57–29 and 29–14 ka). Indicators of inorganic sedimentation from a 9.5 m sediment core – focussed on high-resolution estimates of sediment geochemistry supported by x-radiography, inorganic content and magnetic susceptibility – were combined with a chronology consisting of six radiocarbon (14C) and thirteen single-grain optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages. Hiatuses occurred at ~178–153 ka, ~36–21 ka and ~7–2 ka and likely result from the wetland drying. Low values of locally sourced aeolian materials indicate a wet MIS 7a–c and early MIS 6 before a relatively dry MIS 5. Inorganic flux during the Holocene was up to four times greater than during MIS 5, consistent with long-term interglacial drying observed in other regions, most notably in central Australia. This study highlights the importance of employing a combination of multiple dating approaches and calibrated geochemical proxies to derive climate reconstructions and to identify depositional complexities in organic-rich wetland records.

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Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

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© 2020 Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.

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Kemp, CW; Tibby, J; Arnold, LJ; Barr, C; Gadd, PS; Marshall, JC; McGregor, GB; Jacobsen, GE, Climates of the last three interglacials in subtropical eastern Australia inferred from wetland sediment geochemistry, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2020, 538