Provenance of Holocene Calcareous Aeolianites, Eastern South Australia
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The southeastern coast of South Australia contains a spectacular and world-renown suite of Quaternary calcareous aeolianites. This study is focused on the provenance of components in the Holocene sector of this carbonate breach-dune succession. Research was carried out along seven transects from ~30 meters water depth offshore across the beach and into the dunes. Offshore sediments were acquired via grab sampling and SCUBA. Results indicate that dunes of the southern Lacepede and Otway coasts in particular are mostly composed of modern invertebrate and calcareous algal allochems. The most numerous grains are from molluscs, benthic foraminifera, coralline algae, echinoids, and bryozoans. These particles originate in carbonate factories such as macroalgal forests, rocky reefs, seagrass meadows, and low-relief seafloor rockgrounds. The incorporation of carbonate skeletons into coastal dunes, however, depends on a combination of; 1) the infauna within intertidal and nearshore environments, 2) the physical characteristics of different allochems and their ability to withstand fragmentation and abrasion, 3) the wave and swell climate, and 4) the nature of aeolian transport. Most aeolian dune sediment is derived from nearshore and intertidal carbonate factories. This is particularly well illustrated by the abundance of robust infaunal bivalves that inhabit the nearshore sands and virtual absence of bryozoans that are common as sediment particles in water depths > 10mwd. Thus, the calcareous aeolianites in this cool-water carbonate region are not a reflection of the offshore marine shelf factories, but more a product of shallow nearshore-intertidal biomes.