Coastal geomorphology and historic change in the Pennefather River area, Cape York

Gillieson, David (2005) Coastal geomorphology and historic change in the Pennefather River area, Cape York. Geography Monograph Series, 10. pp. 201-213.

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[Extract] The Australian coastline is shaped by processes operating over a wide range of time-scales, ranging from post-glacial sea level rise to daily tides. In northern Australia cyclonic waves and winds must be added, as well as the effects of major floods. Geomorphic process records are largely absent over most of the area, while maps and aerial photography rarely predate the 1960s. Thus there may be value in considering the written records of early explorers in combination with historic imagery to evaluate long-term coastal change. Such an opportunity was provided through the Flinders Bicentenary expedition organised by the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland. The specific area was the Pennefather River of western Cape York, some 40 km north of Weipa.

The Pennefather River (Figure 1, page 202) has a well developed spit at its mouth, backed by extensive mud banks and mangrove swamps. This is a consequence of dominant longshore drift and periodic flood outflows from the river. This spit may well have changed its extent and location in historic times since Flinders visited the area in 1802. To the north and south of the estuary are a set of three well developed transgressive dunes which may correlate with the early to mid-Holocene sequence recorded near Weipa by Lees et al. (1999). These transgressive dunes were probably formed by the reworking of late Pleistocene sand masses following recovery of sea level after the Last Glacial. This mechanism, termed the Cooper-Thom event, relies on the role of large storms in the Gulf of Carpentaria destroying coastal vegetation and thus remobilising stabilised dunes. Do such storms cause similar effects today? Have major cyclones in the historic period reshaped this landscape? What other disturbance processes are at work?

Item ID: 7157
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1037-7158
Keywords: Cape York; coastal; geomorphology
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2011 05:56
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040601 Geomorphology and Regolith and Landscape Evolution @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960999 Land and Water Management of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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