Last glacial "coastal" dunes in Eastern Australia and implications for landscape stability during the Last Glacial Maximum

Bruce Thom, Patrick Hesp, Edward Bryant

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52 Citations (Scopus)


The Last Glacial Maximum or LGM (25,000-15,000 yr B.P.) has been recognized in Australia as a period of increased dryness, coolness, continentality and windiness compared to earlier and later period Enhanced aeolian activity during the LGM occurred in arid and semi-arid regions of western, central and eastern Australia. The east coast has been considered to have been better watered and vegetated. However, at a number of sites from Tasmania to North Queensland, there is evidence for extensive aeolian instability of coastal sand deposits. Dating by radiocarbon and thermoluminiscence techniques has supported morphologic and stratigraphic evidence of dune formation during the LGM under the influence of westerly (offshore) winds in the southern sector of the east coast (i.e. south of 31°S latitude) and southeast winds to the north. It is now apparent that vegetation cover on sandy surfaces was quite patchy during the LGM. Sand surface instability under conditions of strong west or southeast winds promoted linear and/or parabolic dune development. This suggests greater concentration of forests in more discrete, protected sites along the eastern escarpment than was previously considered by palaeoecologists. More widespread drier and cooler climatic conditions operated even in coastal regions on expanded continental shelves at this time. Stabilization of areas of active dunes became more likely as sea levels rose, reduced windiness occurred, and precipitation increased as sea surface temperatures began to rise in the Holocene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-248
Number of pages20
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes


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