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Australia – a Cenozoic history

David Branagan
David Branagan
School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia (e-mail:
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January 01, 2008


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.

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Figures & Tables


Geological Society, London, Special Publications

History of Geomorphology and Quaternary Geology

R. H. Grapes
R. H. Grapes
Korea University, South Korea
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D. Oldroyd
D. Oldroyd
The University of New South Wales, Australia
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A. Grigelis
A. Grigelis
Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, Lithuania
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2008




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