Palaeoclimate

Cave formations and sediments can be used to reconstruct past climate conditions, providing a palaeoclimatic context for the fossil assemblages.

The paleontological values of the Naracoorte Caves are not limited to fossils. Cave formations such as stalagmites and stalactites, as well as cave sediments have been the focus of research to reconstruct past climate conditions.  Dating of cave formations has provided insights into past rainfall patterns at the Naracoorte Caves through the Pleistocene. Local climate conditions and the influence of regional climate on the deposits of the caves have been examined from sediments and sediment profiles in the Caves (see papers listed under Depositional Setting and Dating).

Gaps in the palaeoclimatic history of the site presents an opportunity for continuing research into cave sediments and formations, particularly to understand the timing and drivers of past rainfall and the extent and frequency of fire in the landscape.

Further reading

  • Ayliffe, L.K., Marianelli, P.C., Moriarty, K.C., Wells, R.T., McCulloch, M.T., Mortimer, G.E. and Hellstrom, J.C. 1998. 500 ka precipitation record from south-eastern Australia: evidence for interglacial relative aridity. Geology 26, 147–150.
  • Bestland, E.A. and Rennie, J. 2006. Stable isotope record (δ 18O and δ13C) of a Naracoorte Caves speleothem (Australia) from before and after the Last Interglacial. Alcheringa Special Issue 1, 19–29.
  • Demarshelier, J.M., Goede, A., Ayliffe, L.K., McCulloch, M.T. and Moriarty, K. 2000. Stable isotope record and its palaeoenvironmental interpretation for a late Middle Pleistocene speleothem from Victoria Fossil Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 19, 763–774.