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Chungará (Arica)

On-line version ISSN 0717-7356

Abstract

FITZSIMMONS, Kathryn E  and  TELFER, Matthew W. SEDIMENTARY HISTORY AND THE INTERPRETATION OF LATE QUATERNARY DUNE RECORDS: EXAMPLES FROM THE TIRARI DESERT, AUSTRALIA AND THE KALAHARI, SOUTH ÁFRICA. Chungará (Arica) [online]. 2008, vol.40, n.especial, pp.295-308. ISSN 0717-7356.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-73562008000300006.

Stabilized sand deposits from arid regions are often used as palaeoenvironmental proxies for past periods of enhanced aeolian activity. Although widespread use of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating techniques has opened up the possibility of systematic analyses of dune building chronologies, palaeoenvironmental histories cannot be reconstructed from chronological data alone. The reconstruction of regional palaeoenvironmental histories should consider all available evidence - stratigraphic, sedimentological and micromorphological, and chronological. This paper highlights potential issues with the interpretation of dune records in the context of stratigraphic preservation, using examples from the Tirari Desert in Australia and the Kalahari Desert in southern África. Sedimentological characterisation of linear dunes in the Tirari Desert demonstrates that reworking of underlying dune sediments and buried soils is common, thereby calling into question simplistic interpretations of dune formation involving sequential deposition and pedogenesis. This case study highlights the limitation of the augering technique, although useful information can be gained nonetheless. Three OSL age estimates confirm the presence of at least two Holocene dune building episodes, but cannot constrain the timing of the onset of dune building. Higher frequency sampling and micromorphological analyses may further elucídate the palaeoenvironmental history of individual dunes. In the Southwestern Kalahari, interdune sediments have been described as the least sensitive part of the aeolian landscape, thus offering the potential for longer records of aeolian deposition. This is found not to be the case at Witpan, where interdune sands are extensively mixed and probably younger than the linear dune cores. The lunette at Witpan records numerous short-lived and rapid deflationary events from the nearby pan (playa). These are considered to reflect changes in sediment source rather than pedogenesis. These examples highlight the valué of combining micromorphological, sedimentological and chronological studies for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.

Keywords : Interdunes; linear dunes; luminescence dating; lunettes; Quaternary; Tirari Desert; Kalahari Desert.

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