Late Quaternary fluctuations of the Leeuwin Current and palaeoclimates on the adjacent landmasses - clay mineral evidence

mschlueter [ at ]


Clay minerals eroded from soils by rivers and wind action become entrained in shallow- as well as deep-water masses of the surrounding seas. Their pattern on the sea floor gives clues to their propagation by ocean currents. Clay mineral assemblages in sediment cores can be used as a useful proxy to decipher past changes in the intensity of ocean currents or in the nature of the palaeoclimatic processes on the adjacent landmasses. Three cores taken from beneath the path of the present-day Leeuwin Current in the Timor Passage, from off the Australian North West Shelf and off the North West Cape of Western Australia are investigated. They provide a Late Quaternary record of environmental changes. Kaolinite and chlorite are transported into the Timor Passage today by the Indonesian Throughflow, while illite is provided locally from Timor. The Leeuwin Current leaves the Timor Passage with a characteristic clay mineral signature acquired in the Indonesian Archipelago (kaolinite, chlorite and illite). Uptake of clay minerals along its way through the Timor Sea, e.g. illite from the Kimberley area, changes this signature. South of North West Cape chlorite, injected by the rivers of the Pilbara region into the path of the Leeuwin Current, is prominent in surface sediments in less than 1000 m water depth and outlines the flow of the current today. During the last glacial period, the volume of the Indonesian Throughflow decreased and less kaolinite and chlorite reached the Timor Passage. Offshore from North West Cape, a reduction in chlorite during the last glacial may indicate a decrease or absence of the Leeuwin Current and/or a reduction in the input of chlorite due to drier conditions on land. A maximum of illite in recent sediments and the Holocene offshore from North West Cape results from the input of material from rivers periodically draining the adjacent hinterland. Again, a reduction in illite points to a drier climate in the area during the last glacial.

Item Type
Publication Status
Eprint ID
Cite as
Gingele, F. X. , Deckker, P. d. and Hillenbrand, C. D. (2001): Late Quaternary fluctuations of the Leeuwin Current and palaeoclimates on the adjacent landmasses - clay mineral evidence , Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 48 (6), pp. 867-874 .

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email

Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item