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Book Chapter

Deltas in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia: Forms, Processes, and Products

By
Brian G. Jones
Brian G. Jones
School of Geosciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia briangj@uow.edu.au; colin_woodroffe@uow.edu.au
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Colin D. Woodroffe
Colin D. Woodroffe
School of Geosciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia briangj@uow.edu.au; colin_woodroffe@uow.edu.au
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Glenn R. Martin
Glenn R. Martin
School of Geosciences, University of Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia
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Published:
January 01, 2003

Abstract

Deltas in the shallow marine epicontinental Gulf of Carpentaria have developed in the slowly subsiding Karumba Basin and are influenced by monsoonal fluvial discharge and a diurnal tidal regime. The McArthur delta is protected from wave action by offshore islands, and the restricted width of the delta is a function of bedrock outcrops near the delta mouth. The upper delta plain is characterized by fluvial lateral-accretion point-bar deposits. In the lower delta plain, progradation has resulted in a buildup of shelly delta-front sands overlain by muddy intertidal and supratidal deposits. The latter dry mudflats are areas of wind deflation and may equate to emergent surfaces in older analogues. Fluvially active distributary channels have a relatively uniform width whereas abandoned channels adopt a tapering tide-dominated form. This delta shows progressive influence of riverine processes downstream onto the lower delta plain. Although the tide-dominated channels have a high sinuosity, their patterns reflect former fluvial channels.

The Gilbert River, by contrast, is not bedrock-controlled and contains a prograding coastal wedge of Holocene sediment extending laterally for a distance of 125 km along the coast. The subaerial portion of the delta has prograded 15–20 km during the past 6,500 years, and the subsurface facies show prodelta mud overlain successively by delta-front and subtidal sands, strandline beach and chenier ridges, and intertidal to supratidal mudflats. Thin floodplain deposits cover the inner portion of the delta. Changes in the locus of sedimentation result from fluvial avulsions and account for age variations in the local subtidal sand and beach-ridge accumulations.

Deltas in the northern Australian region are not adequately defined by simple morphological classifications. They drain from geologically mature landscapes and illustrate complex morphological patterns that develop in response to specific tidal and fluvial regimes. No major incision would have occurred around the Gulf of Carpentaria during the last low stand of sea level because the onshore and offshore gradients are equivalent, and the Holocene deposits have built out as temporary wedges of sediment (up to 30 km wide and 10 m thick) adjacent to the present shoreline.

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Contents

SEPM Special Publication

Tropical Deltas of Southeast Asia—Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, and Petroleum Geology

F. Hasan Sidi
F. Hasan Sidi
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Dag Nummedal
Dag Nummedal
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Patrice Imbert
Patrice Imbert
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Herman Darman
Herman Darman
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Henry W. Posamentier
Henry W. Posamentier
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
Volume
76
ISBN electronic:
9781565762138
Publication date:
January 01, 2003

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