Spatial and Compositional Variations within Finely Laminated Mineral Crusts at Carpenter's Gap, an Archaeological Site in Tropical Australia

Alan Watchman, Ingrid Ward, Rhys Jones, Susan O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mineralogical and geochemical variations in ten rock surface crusts are described from a large rock shelter known as Carpenter's Gap 1 in the southern Kimberley, formed at the junction between a sandstone floor and an overlying limestone roof. The finely laminated crusts, containing quartz, clays, oxalate and phosphate minerals, and sulfate salts (bassanite, gypsum, epsomite), formed over quartz-rich sandstones. Mineralogical analyses of crusts, determined by X-ray diffraction, and major element geochemical trends, in the form of element maps of cross sections, show a complex distribution of hemi-, mono-, and dihydrated sulfate and oxalate minerals vertically and laterally within the shelter. These mineralogical changes have occurred under fluctuating moisture and temperature regimes, which follow a general drying trend spatially with distance from the back wall and temporally over a period of about 20,000 years. Documenting these mineralogical changes is a first step in understanding the nature of microclimatic controls on the formation of rock surface coatings in shelters and their implications for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions and for dating engravings covered by these crusts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-824
Number of pages22
JournalGeoarchaeology - An International Journal
Volume16
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes

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