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University of New South Wales

1. Courtney, Claire. Holocene palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of four coastal sites in Southern New South Wales, Australia: implications for the Australian megatsunami hypothesis.

Degree: Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, 2012, University of New South Wales

The combination of a short written history and the coastal vulnerability of New South Wales have led to uncertainty regarding tsunami risk. There is also a disparity between small historical tsunamis and the proposed megatsunami inundation reported for the Holocene that is based upon controversial field evidence. To test the megatsunami hypothesis, research was conducted at Pambula Beach swale, Lake Bondi, Lake Nargal and Long Beach wetland, on the South Coast of New South Wales. All four sites are low elevation, low energy back beach locations with high preservation potential and are located in close proximity to sites purported to contain evidence of Holocene megatsunami inundation.Stratigraphic, sedimentary, geochemical and microfossil analyses, combined with an extensive radiocarbon chronology of these sites allow for a full reconstruction of the Holocene environments. Reconstruction revealed notable stability at each of the four coastal sites. Infilling Quaternary river valleys, Holocene sediments are dominated by extensive barrier sands from the marine transgression approximately 7,000 – 2,000 years before present. A combination of higher than present sea level and the mid-Holocene moist phase resulted in the development of brackish coastal lakes and lagoons before present conditions were attained in the last 3,000 years.Sedimentary and microfossil evidence suggests periods of reworking and input of terrestrial sediments possibly as a result of storm or flood events at Lake Nargal, where six high energy events indicate flooding from inland. A high energy marine inundation event is proposed at Long Beach wetland approximately 4,000 – 6,000 years before present, which may have been a result of a distally generated tsunami. Although a sheltered site, the area around Long Beach has a historical and robust geological record of inundation events.Environmental changes within the coastal sites are driven primarily by sea level change, with climate, topography and energy at the locations also playing significant roles. No evidence of megatsunami inundation was identified despite proximity to reported megatsunami inundation sites, vulnerability to overwash and high preservation of sediments. This casts doubts on the diagnostic criteria used to underpin megatsunami inundation as well as the proposed event chronology and source mechanisms for New South Wales. Advisors/Committee Members: Dominey-Howes, Dale, Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, UNSW, Goff, James, Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, UNSW, Chague-Goff, Catherine, Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, UNSW.

Subjects/Keywords: Multi-proxy; Holocene; Megatsunami; Australia

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APA (6th Edition):

Courtney, C. (2012). Holocene palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of four coastal sites in Southern New South Wales, Australia: implications for the Australian megatsunami hypothesis. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of New South Wales. Retrieved from http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/52007 ; https://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:10677/SOURCE01?view=true

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Courtney, Claire. “Holocene palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of four coastal sites in Southern New South Wales, Australia: implications for the Australian megatsunami hypothesis.” 2012. Doctoral Dissertation, University of New South Wales. Accessed October 16, 2019. http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/52007 ; https://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:10677/SOURCE01?view=true.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Courtney, Claire. “Holocene palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of four coastal sites in Southern New South Wales, Australia: implications for the Australian megatsunami hypothesis.” 2012. Web. 16 Oct 2019.

Vancouver:

Courtney C. Holocene palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of four coastal sites in Southern New South Wales, Australia: implications for the Australian megatsunami hypothesis. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of New South Wales; 2012. [cited 2019 Oct 16]. Available from: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/52007 ; https://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:10677/SOURCE01?view=true.

Council of Science Editors:

Courtney C. Holocene palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of four coastal sites in Southern New South Wales, Australia: implications for the Australian megatsunami hypothesis. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of New South Wales; 2012. Available from: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/52007 ; https://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:10677/SOURCE01?view=true

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