The study of the Quaternary events that shaped the surface of Australia cannot be separated from the previous 60 Ma of the Tertiary. This history has only begun to be clearly understood since about 1950. Explorers from the late seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century laid the groundwork for the later understanding by their observations, particularly under difficult conditions, and by their attempts to interpret what they recorded. The western and southwestern coasts provided evidence of relative uplift of land, while the northeastern coast (the Great Barrier Reef) indicated evidence of the opposite. Explorers of various nationalities provided the evidence. Knowledge of the dry inland began to emerge from the 1830s, with puzzlement about ‘hard crusts’. Evidence of limited Pleistocene glaciation and relatively young, but quite extensive, volcanic activity took somewhat longer to evaluate. A major interest for European savants was the discovery, in the late 1820s, of cave deposits of extinct vertebrates.
Figures & Tables
This book deals with various interesting aspects of the histories of geomorphology and Quaternary geology in different parts of the world. The papers cover a range of topics: the origin of the term ‘Quaternary’, histories of ideas and debates relating to aspects of fluvial geomorphology (USA and Australia), glacial geomorphology and glaciation (Northern Europe, the Baltic countries, Russia, Iceland, and New Zealand), desert dunes and the geology of Australia, peneplains in China, a palaeo-Tokyo Bay in Japan, together with biographies of Charles Cotton (New Zealand), Valerija Čepulytė (Lithuania) and Česlovas Pakuckas (Lithuania and Poland) that highlight their respective contributions to the disciplines of geomorphology and Quaternary geology. There is an autobiographical contribution from E. E. Milanovsky (Russia) on his work in Siberia, the Caucasus and Iceland, illustrated by his sketches made in the field.