Australian dust deposits: Modern processes and the Quaternary record

Paul P. Hesse*, Grant H. McTainsh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

204 Citations (Scopus)


Dust raising and transport are common and important processes in Australia today. The aridity of the Australian continent and high climatic variability result in widespread dust raising in the arid and semi-arid areas and transport to the humid margins and surrounding oceans. The supply of erodible particles appears to be the greatest limitation on total flux of transported dust. Dust raising is greatest in the Lake Eyre Basin, including the Simpson Desert, and Murray-Darling Basin where internal drainage renews supplies of fine particles to the arid zone. In the west and northwest dust entrainment is low, despite considerable aridity. The marine record of dust flux shows at least a threefold increase in dust flux, compared with the Holocene, in the last glacial maximum in both tropical and temperate Australia, driven by weakened Australian monsoon rains and drier westerly circulation, respectively. Despite the widespread confirmation of aeolian dust deposits in southeastern and southwestern Australia, dated or quantified records are extremely rare. The dominant model of Australian dust deposits, the clay-rich 'parna', is shown to be poorly substantiated while modern and ancient dust deposits examined in detail are shown to bear a strong similarity to conventional definitions of loess.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2007-2035
Number of pages29
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number18-19
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003


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