Paleo-environments of the Kimberley, Northwest Australia

Lead researchers: Prof Hamish McGowan, Dr Rachel Rudd & Teresa Dixon.

The Kimberley in northwest Australia is a region of archaeological significance, with a long history of human habitation accompanied by a long and diverse sequence of rock art. The region is subject to intense seasonality, with the climate dominated by the Australian summer monsoon associated with the seasonal migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Understanding the climatic history of this region through the late Quaternary provides important environmental context to the archaeological history, and insight into the spatial and temporal variability of the Australian summer monsoon. Our research aims to elucidate the climatic history of this region through the analysis of terrestrial sediment archives, and proxies of environmental change contained within them such as pollen and charcoal. During a field work campaign in July and August 2021, new terrestrial sediment cores were collected from Birrindudu Station and Bullo River Station in the Northern Territory on the eastern margin of the Kimberley, and from Theda Station and Doongan Station in Western Australia. Analysis of these sediments is ongoing.

This work is supported by the Australian Research Council, Rock Art Australia and Dunkeld Pastoral Company.

Russian D-section core sample collected from a field site in the Northwest Kimberley showing transition from a fluvial dominated system to a wetland/rainforest environment.

Coring Leslie Lakes, Bullo River