The onset of dune formation in the Strzelecki Desert, South Australia
This study is concerned with the Late Quaternary climatic chronology of the Strzelecki Desert dunefields in central Australia. The sand ridges comprise layers of quartz sand, some of which include palaeosol horizons with carbonated rootlets providing excellent opportunity for dating of alternations of dune building and stability by using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). Deduced from the OSL age of the oldest aeolian layer dated, we conclude that the onset of aridity dates back to at least ∼65 ka. Older phases of aeolian activity though, following a fluvial depositional phase 160 ka ago, cannot be excluded, although no aeolian layers giving evidence for this have been found in the two dunes dated here. Unconsolidated dune sands in the upper part of one section with Late Holocene (4 ka to modern) depositional ages indicate a reactivation of the dunefield in recent times. From the crosscheck of 14C ages of the carbonated rootlets with OSL results it is concluded that under the given environmental conditions radiocarbon dating of the calcareous rootlets is not able to provide reliable ages for the phase of soil development.
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