Drainage landscapes of the Australian continental shelf

Aborigines Hunting Waterbirds - Lycett painting

Aborigines Hunting Waterbirds - Lycett painting

There are a number of oral stories passed down through generations of First Nation peoples from coastal areas around Australia that relate the meaning and function of former landscapes and river systems to their ancestors.

These stories are rich in imagery that can be interpreted in terms of physiography.

Physiographic details or inferences may provide a set of evidence by which to hunt for and verify former landscape features and complete the picture painted by these ancient stories of their former world.

Various remote exploration survey datasets reveal surface drainage systems that scarred the Australian continental shelf when exposed during the latest glacial maximum. Many of these systems can be linked to fluvial drainage networks that discharge at the coastline today.

The dimensions and geometry of these drainage systems indicate characteristics of discharge, for example,

  • discharge rates,
  • the balance between water and sediment influx and discharge,
  • discharge slope gradient,
  • nature of the sediment supply, and
  • drainage bed.

These characteristics are controlled by seasonal and climatic fluctuations, tectonic events, geology of the catchment regolith and geology of the drainage substrate.

This project proposes to interpret former terrestrial drainage systems of the Australian continental shelf using exploration seismic reflection survey datasets.

From these interpretations, characteristics of discharge may be inferred and related to climatic, tectonic and geological conditions or events. This work will thereby provide a window into the past and a link to the world of coastal First Nation ancestors.

Prerequisites:

  • It would be useful for you to have completed Sedimentary Geology II, Earth Systems History III and Exploration Methods III.

Tagged in Honours projects - Geology, Honours Projects - Rosalind King, Honours Projects - Mark Bunch