Environmental context for late Holocene human occupation of the South Wellesley Archipelago, Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia

Moss, Patrick, Mackenzie, Lydia, Ulm, Sean, Sloss, Craig, Rosendahl, Daniel, Petherick, Lynda, Steinberger, Lincoln, Wallis, Lynley, Heijnis, Henk, Petchey, Fiona, & Jacobsen, Geraldine (2015) Environmental context for late Holocene human occupation of the South Wellesley Archipelago, Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia. Quaternary International, 385, pp. 136-144.

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A 2400 year record of environmental change is reported from a wetland on Bentinck Island in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia. Three phases of wetland development are identified, with a protected coastal setting from ca. 2400 to 500 years ago, transitioning into an estuarine mangrove forest from ca. 500 years ago to the 1940s, and finally to a freshwater swamp over the past +60 years. This sequence reflects the influence of falling sea-levels, development of a coastal dune barrier system, prograding shorelines, and an extreme storm (cyclone) event. In addition, there is clear evidence of the impacts that human abandonment and resettlement have on the island's fire regimes and vegetation. A dramatic increase in burning and vegetation thickening was observed after the cessation of traditional Indigenous Kaiadilt fire management practices in the 1940s, and was then reversed when people returned to the island in the 1980s. In terms of the longer context for human occupation of the South Wellesley Archipelago, it is apparent that the mangrove phase provided a stable and productive environment that was conducive for human settlement of this region over the past 1000 years.

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ID Code: 86207
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Multidisciplinary approaches to Australian island pasts: Late Pleistocene to historical Perspectives on Australian island use
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Palynology, Fire regimes, Abandonment, Cyclone, Indigenous, Islands
DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.02.051
ISSN: 1873-4553
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.
Deposited On: 04 Aug 2015 23:14
Last Modified: 18 May 2016 04:58

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