Present-day sedimentation rates on the southern and southeastern Australian continental margins

S. Schmidt, P. De Deckker*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    The Australian continental margin presents highly contrasted settings depending on (1) the presence or absence of a fluvial sediment supply, (2) the distance from the Australian mainland, and (3) the local hydrological setting. Despite the importance in surface area of the continental margin around the Australian mainland, so far only a few studies have dealt with sedimentation, most of them focusing on the northeastern Australian Shelf. This work presents the first large-scale investigation of modern sedimentation along the southern margin of Australia in the SE Indian Ocean, and the western margin of the Tasman Sea. Sedimentation intensity was assessed on a century timescale using a multi-tracer approach (234Th, 210Pb, 232Th) on interface cores around the 1000 m water depth contour. 234Th (half-life: 24.1 days) in excess was detected in all surface samples, testifying to the occurrence of freshly deposited particles. Sedimentation and mass accumulation rates based on sedimentary 210Pb excess profiles (CF:CS model) range between 0.027 and 0.280 cm y–1 and between 14 and 222 mg cm–2 y–1, respectively. Whereas sedimentation rates are low and associated with carbonates on the western margin, sediments are more influenced by the detrital fraction and organic carbon on the eastern side of the continent. In comparison with northern continental margins (e.g. Timor Sea, Gulf of Papua), the southern Australian margin receives little sediment today, as it is rarely linked to a river system that would otherwise deliver large amounts of sediment, and also because of the presence of the extended shelf south of Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)143-150
    Number of pages8
    JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2015


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