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Sea-Level History, 45,000 to 30,000 yr B.P., Inferred from Benthic Foraminifera, Gulf St. Vincent, South Australia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

John H. Cann
School of Pure and Applied Sciences, Salisbury Campus of South Australian College of Advanced Education, Smith Road, Salisbury East 5109, Australia
Antonio P. Belperio
Department of Mines and Energy, P.O. Box 151, Eastwood 5063, Australia
Victor A. Gostin
Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Adelaide, G.P.O. Box 498, Adelaide 5001, Australia
Colin V. Murray-Wallace
N. W. G. Macintosh Centre for Quaternary Dating, University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia


Surficial sediments of Gulf St. Vincent, South Australia, are predominantly bioclastic, cool-temperate carbonates. Benthic foraminifera are abundant and distribution of species is closely related to water depth. For example, Massilina milletti is most common at depths ca. 40 m, while Discorbis dimidiatus is characteristics of shallow, subtidal environments. Elphidium crispum, a shallow-water species, and E. macelliforme, favoring deeper water, provide a useful numerical ratio. Their logarithmic relative abundance, in the sediment size fraction 0.50–0.25 mm, correlates strongly with water depth. Vibrocores SV 4 and SV 5 recovered undisturbed sections of Quaternary strata from the deepest part (ca. 40 m) of Gulf St. Vincent. Amino acid racemization and radiocarbon age determinations show that late Pleistocene sections of the cores were deposited over the time ca. 45,000 to 30,000 yr B.P. Species of fossil foraminifera, recovered from these sections, are mostly extant in modern Gulf St. Vincent, thus allowing paleoecological inferences of late Pleistocene sea levels. These inferred sea-level maxima can be correlated with those determined from study of Huon Peninsula coral reef terraces. Initial estimates of tectonically corrected sea levels for transgressions in Gulf St. Vincent at 40,000 and 31,000 yr B.P. are −22.5 m and −22 m, respectively. The intervening regression lowered sea level to −28 m.

Original Articles
University of Washington

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