A large mid-Holocene estuary was not present in the lower River Murray, Australia: Matters Arising

J. Tibby, B. Bourman, C. Wilson, L. M. Mosley, A. P. Belperio, D. D. Ryan, P. A. Hesp, C. V. Murray-Wallace, G. Miot da Silva, S. R. Dillenburg, D. Haynes

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Abstract

Recent research has suggested that during the mid-Holocene (c. 8500 to 5000 cal yr BP) a large estuary occupied the lower River Murray and its terminal lakes (Lakes Alexandrina and Albert: herein the Lower Lakes) in South Australia. This research has questioned both reconstructions of past River Murray discharge and contemporary environmental water provisions aimed at maintaining the freshwater state of the Lower Lakes. We show that 1) a large mid-Holocene estuary extending into the lower River Murray was not physically possible, and (2) that the River Murray and Lower Lakes were predominantly fresh during the mid-Holocene. Sea level was well below present at the time of purported initiation of estuarine sedimentation and, therefore, could not haveallowed formation of an estuary. Holocene human occupation of the lower River Murray valley, that was reliant on freshwater resources, negates the existence of a large estuary in the valley. A variety of freshwater indicators in sediments from in, and around, the Lower Lakes negate the notion of significant marine incursion. Hence, current management of the Lower Lakes as freshwater ecosystems is consistent with their Holocene history
Original languageEnglish
Article number12082
Number of pages5
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • environmental monitoring
  • Limnology

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