Displacement of the Great Divide in north Queensland associated with Neogene lava flows

Whitehead, P.W., and Nelson, P.N. (2014) Displacement of the Great Divide in north Queensland associated with Neogene lava flows. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 61 (6). pp. 803-809.

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Abstract

In north Queensland, Australia, the 'Great Divide' forms the border between catchments draining into the Gulf of Carpentaria, including the Mitchell River, and those draining into the Coral Sea, including the Barron River. Until recently, it was commonly proposed that what is now the upper Barron River previously drained into the Mitchell River. However, little evidence was presented, and the assertion has been disputed. Our examination of borehole data, combined with accurate surveying of bedrock in the present Barron River channel, provides definitive evidence that paleochannels of the Mitchell River previously drained what is now the upper Barron River subcatchment. Lava that flowed down these channels at ca 1.79 Ma is evident in some of the boreholes and is exposed in the Barron River channel. The lava flows blocked the river channel, diverting the headwaters of the paleo-Mitchell River east into the Barron River, resulting in the western migration of the Great Divide. The consequent reduction in stream energy available to the truncated headwaters of Mitchell River has led to channel infill and aggradation of more than 40 m since the diversion of the Barron River. Subsurface paleochannels may be directing groundwater across the present drainage divide from the upper Barron River catchment into the Mitchell River catchment.

Item ID: 35881
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Australia, Great Divide, Barron River, basalt, drainage basin, drainage evolution, Mitchell River
ISSN: 1440-0952
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2014 05:49
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040601 Geomorphology and Regolith and Landscape Evolution @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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