Late-Holocene climatic variability indicated by three natural archives in arid southern Australia

Luke A. Gliganic, Timothy J. Cohen, Jan Hendrik May, John D. Jansen, Gerald C. Nanson, Anthony Dosseto, Josh R. Larsen, Maxime Aubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Three terrestrial climate proxies are used to investigate the evolution of Holocene palaeoenvironments in southern central Australia, all of which present a coherent record of palaeohydrology. Single-grain optically stimulated luminescence from sediments supplemented by 14C from charcoal and lacustrine shells was obtained to date shoreline deposits (Lake Callabonna) and the adjacent Mt Chambers Creek alluvial fan. Our findings are complemented by a U/Th-based record of speleothem growth in the Mt Chambers Creek catchment, which we interpret to reflect increased precipitation. Together, these archives shed light on the timing of, and possible sources of water for, Holocene pluvial intervals. We identified several phases of elevated lake levels dated at ~5.8-5.2, 4.5, 3.5-2.7 and 1 kyr, most of which correspond to fluvial activity resulting from increased precipitation in the adjacent ranges. The enhanced hydrology during phases of the late Holocene likely increased the reliability of resources for regional human populations during a time of reduced winter rainfall. When considered within the framework of the current understanding of Holocene palaeoclimate in central Australia, our data suggest that the pattern of landscape response was broadly synchronous with larger scale climatic variability and punctuated by pluvial periods greater than today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-117
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Erratum can be found in Holocene, Volume 24(3), 377,


  • archaeology
  • arid Australia
  • environmental variability
  • Flinders Ranges
  • Lake Callabonna
  • late Holocene


Dive into the research topics of 'Late-Holocene climatic variability indicated by three natural archives in arid southern Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this