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    Late Cainozoic climatic and eustatic record from the Loxton-Parilla Sands, Murray Basin, Southeastern Australia
    Kotsonis, Andrew ( 1995)
    A series of ancient shoreline ridges in the western Murray Basin of southeastern Australia preserve a detailed legacy of Pliocene marine retreat. The 157 subdued NNW trending coastal ridges of the Loxton-Parilla Sands, mapped using conventional techniques and night-time thermal imagery from the NOAA and the ERS-l satellites, extend in a parallel series from 400 km inland to the present coastline, and provide a virtual contour plan of the Pliocene landscape. Coastal ridges of the Loxton-Parilla Sands range in age from 6:6 Ma in the east, to 3.5 Ma towards the west, where they are tectonically deformed by the uplift of the Pinnaroo Block. The deposition of the Loxton-Parilla Sands at 6.6 Ma is correlated with high global sea levels, with the distribution of the sands suggesting deposition at a topographic level comparable to an ice-free earth (i.e. complete deglaciation of the polar regions). Coastal ridges consist of beach-barrier and near-shore sediments deposited in conditions of fluctuating sea levels. The absence of aeolian sediments within the ridges implies a significantly weaker wind-wave regime and/or permanent vegetation cover existed throughout the Pliocene. Eustatic oscillations recognized within the shoreline sequence correlate well with glacio-eustatic changes modulated by the axial precession of the earth with a periodicity near 20, 000 years. Following retreat of the sea, the Loxton-Parilla Sands were subject to deep weathering, with the resultant profile termed the Karoonda Regolith. Following cessation of coastal deposition the Karoonda Regolith developed diachronously, with the oldest pedogenic exposures in the east to the youngest towards the west. Ferric and silicic weathering profiles developed in late Miocene to Plio-Pleistocene times. Pedogenic silcretes formed by downward movement of acidic soil waters with saturation and deposition at the soilwater-groundwater interface under alternating wet and dry conditions. High water tables probably ensured accumulation of silica in the near surface environment. By the Mid Pliocene (3.5 Ma) weathering changed from predominantly silica to iron mobilization with development of ferricrete profiles. Late Pleistocene (0.7-0.4 Ma) ferricrete development ceased when arid climates developed as represented by calcareous soils across the basin. Addition of calcareous parna on the Karoonda Regolith buffered soil water pHs, and switched off ferricrete development. Extensive opaline silica dissolution under alkaline conditions resulted in the development of karstic-type solution pipes that were infilled with pisoliths and clasts of sandstone. Lowered groundwater tables probably contributed to the removal of silica from the near-surface permitting transfer to deep aquifers within the Loxton-Parilla Sands. The change from ferricrete to calcrete formation marks the onset of arid climates in Australia. Correlatives can be drawn between this continental record of sea level changes with those of the deep sea oxygen isotope curves which reflect Milankovitch-type changes in the ice budget of the world.