The character and age structure of valley fills in upper Wolumla Creek catchment, south coast, New South Wales, Australia

Kirstie Fryirs*, Gary Brierley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Extensive valley fills at the base of the escarpment in upper Wolumla Creek, on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia, have formed from a combination of 'cut and fill' processes. The valley fills comprise series of alternating, horizontally bedded sand and mud units, reflecting reworking of detritus from deeply weathered granites of the Bega Batholith. Sand units are deposited as sand sheets or splays on floodplain surfaces or in floodouts that form atop intact valley fill surfaces downstream of discontinuous gullies. Alternatively, sands are deposited from bedload and form bars or part of the valley floor within channel fills. Organic-rich mud units are deposited from suspension in swamps or in seepage zones at the distal margin of floodouts. Within 5 km of the escarpment, valley deposits grade downstream from sand sheet and splay deposition in floodouts, to mud deposition in swamp and seepage zones. Radiocarbon dates indicate that virtually the entire valley fill of upper Wolumla Creek was excavated prior to 6000 years BP. Remnant terraces are evident at valley margins. The valley subsequently filled between 6000 years BP and 1000 years BP producing valley fills around 12m deep, but no greater than 300m wide. Reincision into the valley fill, on a scale smaller than the present incision phase, is indicated at around 1000 years BP, following which the channel refilled. Portion plans dated from 1865 refer to the study area as 'Wolumla Big Flat', and show large areas of swampy terrain, suggesting that the valley fill had re-established by this time. Within a few decades of European settlement the valley fill incised once more. Upper Wolumla Creek now has a channel over 10m deep and 100m wide in places, draining a catchment area of less than 20km2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-287
Number of pages17
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Cut and fill processes
  • Floodout
  • Floodplain
  • Gullying
  • Human impacts
  • Incision
  • Swamp sedimentation
  • Valley fill


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