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Sedimentology (1992) 39,877-903

Modem carbonate and terrigenous clastic sediments on a cool water, high energy, mid-
latitude shelf: Lacepede, southern Australia
NOEL P . JAMES*, Y V O N N E BONE?, CHRI S TOPHER C . V ON DER BORCHt and
VI CT OR A . GOS TI N?
*Department of Geological Sciences, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 3N6
?Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia SO01
$School of Earth Sciences, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia 501 I
ABSTRACT
The wide Lacepede Shelf and narrow Bonney Shelf are contiguous parts of the south-eastem passive
continental margin of Australia. The shelves are open, generally deeper than 40 m, covered by waters
cooler than 18C and swept by oceanic swells that move sediments to depths of 140 m. The Lacepede Shelf
is proximal to the delta of the River Murray and the Coorong Lagoon. Shelf and upper slope sediments
are a variable mixture of Holocene and late Pleistocene quartzose terrigenous clastic and bryozoa-
dominated carbonate particles.
Bryozoa grow in abundance to depths of 250 m and are conspicuous to depths of 350 m. They can be
grouped into four depth-related assemblages. Coralline algae, the only calcareous phototrophs, are
important sediment producers to depths of 70 m. Active benthic carbonate sediment production occurs to
depths of 350 m, but carbonate sediment accumulation is reduced on the open shelf by continuous high
energy conditions.
The shelf is separated into five zones. The strandline is typified by accretionary sequences of steep
shoreface, beach and dune carbonate/siliciclastic sediments. Similar shoreline facies of relict bivalve/
limestone cobble ridges are stranded on the open shelf. The shallow shelf, c.40-70m deep, is a wide,
extremely flat plain with only subtle local relief. I t is a mosaic of grainy, quartzose, palimpsest facies which
reflect the complex interaction of modem bioclastic sediment production (dominated by bryozoa and
molluscs), numerous highstands of sea level over the last 80 000 years, modem mixing of sediments from
relatively recent highstands and local introduction of quartz-rich sediments during lowstands. The middle
shelf, c.7CL140 m deep, is a gentle incline with subtle relief where Holocene carbonates veneer seaward-
dipping bedrock clinoforms and local lowstand beach complexes. Carbonates are mostly modem, uniform,
clean, coarse grained sands dominated by a diverse suite of robust to delicate bryozoa particles produced
primarily in situ but swept into subaqueous dunes. The deep shelfedge, c. 14CL250 m deep, is a site of diverse
and active bryozoa growth. Resulting accumulations are characteristically muddy and distinguished by
large numbers of delicate, branching bryozoa. The upper slope, between 250 and 350 m depth, contains the
deepest platform-related sediments, which are very muddy and contain a low diversity suite of delicate,
branching cyclostome bryozoa.
This study provides fundamental environmental information critical for the interpretation of Cenozoic
cool water carbonates and the region is a good model for older mixed carbonate-terrigenous clastic
successions which were deposited on unrimmed shelves.
INTRODUCTION
Carbonate sediments on mid-latitude shelves outside
the tropics are poorly understood compared to their
warm water counterparts (Nelson, 1988). Such cool
water shelves are, nevertheless, sites of extensive
carbonate production and accumulation and, with
their distinctive composition and lack of reefs, are
877
878 N. P. James et al.
useful modern analogues of many ancient limestones
(Brookfield, 1988; J ames, 1990; J ames & von der
Borch, 1991).
The southern, south-westem and south-eastern
margins of the Australian continent comprise the
world's largest modern cool water carbonate province.
Most of the continental shelf receives negligible
terrigenous sediment input, thereby favouring the
production and preservation of sediments containing
a high proportion of bryozoa, molluscs and foramini-
fera (Wass et al., 1970; Wilcox et al., 1988; Davies et
al., 1989). Apart from the narrow shelf off southern
Victoria and Tasmania (Rao, 1981 ; J ones & Davies,
1983) and off southern Western Australia (Collins,
1988) the extensive southern portion of the margin
has remained virtually unsampled and unstudied,
particularly with regard to Quaternary sedimentation.
This report documents present day sediments on
the Lacepede Shelf and adjacent Bonney Shelf (Fig. 1)
on the basis of bottom sediment samples. In contrast
to most of the margin, this region is opposite a major
drainage system, and so has terrigenous clastic and
carbonate deposits. The paper is largely descriptive
because it records the first such investigation of this
large area. Little is known about cool water carbonates
in general, and as such emphasis is placed on
compositional attributes as well as facies differentia-
tion. The shelves are potential modern analogues for
I.. lzl
.
~ _____
Fig. 1. Generalized geology of the study area modified from Sprigg (1979) showing the location of the Lacepede Shelf and the
Bonney Shelf. The area between the Fleurieu Peninsula and the Palaeozoic-Precambrian rocks in the east is the Murray Basin,
filled with relatively flat lying Cenozoic rocks. The strata are gently tilted to the west because of uplift throughout the
Pleistocene around an axis west of Mount Gambier. These are veneered with arcuate sets of Plic-Pleistocene palaeo beach
dune complexes and sand sheets. Inset: the location of the shelves and drainage basin for the River Murray-Darling system.
Cool water sediments, Lacepede SheK southern Australia 879
mixed carbonate-terrigenous clastic successions dur-
ing periods in geological history when there were no
reef-building metazoans.
METHODOLOGY
The study is based on information obtained during
cruises FR3/89 and FR2/91 of CSIRO R.V. Franklin
during March 1989 and J anuary 1991. Navigation
was by GPS (Global Positioning System), transit
satellite, radar and dead reckoning. The accuracy of
navigational fixes varied from metres to several tens
of metres. Samples and bottom profiles were widely
spaced in order to characterize the entire region.
Bathymetry was determined using a precision depth
recorder. Surface temperatures and salinities were
recorded every 10 min and vertical temperature
profiles for 19 selected positions were documented by
expendable bathythermography (XBT).
A total of 149 sediment samples was taken (Fig. 2);
136 dredges, using a simple bucket (Bleys Dredge)
with a volume of approximately 20 litres, 10 grab
samples using a Smith-McIntyre sampler, one gravity
core and two piston cores. The closed dredge was set
on the bottom and towed at a speed of 2 knots for 3-5
min, at which time the vessel was stopped and the
dredge retrieved. All sediment samples are, therefore,
a mixture of surface and subsurface material to a
depth of 5-10 cm. Although a minor amount of the
mud fraction may have washed out during retrieval,
enough samples with significant amounts of mud were
recovered to confirm that such loss was minimal.
There are neither enough high resolution seismic
profiles ,nor adequate vibrocores yet available to
construct a three-dimensional picture.
Fig. 2. Bathymetry of the Lacepede Shelf and Bonney Shelf and adjacent deep water abyssal plain, based upon existing charts
augmented by depth profiles produced during this study. Dots are sample sites on the shelf and numbered lines are detailed
depth profiles and sample sites illustrated in Figs 3 & 4.
880 N. P. James et al.
Bottom camera stations were located at 14 sites to a
depth of 180 m using either a standard 35 mm camera
with a strobe flash (four) or frame-mounted EG&G
camera-flash unit (10). Sediment composition was
determined by visual examination, under a binocular
microscope where appropriate, of sample splits sieved
into silt to fine grained sand, medium to coarse grained
sand and very coarse grained sand and larger. Colour
reported is based on comparison with the Munsell
colour chart. Rock name equivalents to facies are
noted to make results applicable to the geological
record.
GEOLOGICAL SETTING
Location
The Lacepede Shelf (Figs 1 & 2), spanning approxi-
mately 130 x 190 km (25 000 km2), is a broad embay-
ment into the otherwise relatively narrow continental
shelf of south-eastern Australia. I t is delimited by
Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu Peninsula to the west
and north and by the arcuate Younghusband Penin-
sula/Coorong Lagoon complex, hereafter called the
Coorong Strand, to the north-east. The contiguous,
much narrower Bonney Shelf forms the margin south-
eastward towards Bass Strait. The Great Australian
Bight Abyssal Plain lies to the south in water depths
of more than 5 km, a region typified by terrigenous
and carbonate turbidites (Conolly & von der Borch,
1967). Major submarine canyons dissect the interven-
ing continental slope (von der Borch, 1967).
Bedrock geology and tectonics
The region is a portion of the southern Australian
passive margin, where the age of breakup between
Australia and Antarctica has been estimated as 95
5 Ma (Cenomanian-Turonian) by Veevers (1986).
The Lacepede Shelf is a seaward extension of the
onshore Murray Basin (Brown, 1985), a broad, shallow
depression to the north-east containing up to 1 km of
mostly flat lying Tertiary limestone. Active Cenozoic
faulting controls the western margin of both the
onshore and offshore Murray Basin, and determines
the geography of two north-south trending grabens,
Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf (Fig. 1). Investiga-
tor Strait is a related east-west trending graben.
Kangaroo Island and the Mt Lofty Ranges of Fleurieu
Peninsula are horst-like features of elevated Protero-
zoic and Palaeozoic basement. Strata immediately
beneath the Lacepede and Bonney shelves are Eocene-
Miocene bryozoa-rich carbonates (Sprigg, 1952;
J ames & Bone, 1989).
Quaternary geology and tectonics
Relatively flat lying Tertiary carbonates onshore are
veneered by a thin succession of stranded Plio-
Pleistocene beach dune ridges that extend inland for
200 km (Sprigg, 1952, 1958, 1979; Cook et al., 1977;
Schwebel, 1983; Belperio & Bluck, 1990). Sprigg
(1979) has identified 30 such linear palaeoshoreline
systems, each one roughly parallel to the Coorong
Lagoon and related to highstands and lowstands of
sea level. Stranding has been due to the rising Gambier
Arch (Fig. 1). Ridges are progressively younger south-
westwards towards the sea (Cook et al., 1977). During
glacial lowstands of sea level a northward shift of the
roaring forties climatic belt of low pressure systems
resulted in increased rainfall and discharge of the
River Murray (Belperio, 1992). Strong westerlies
during such pluvial periods alsoled to aeolian transport
of terrigenous sediments eastward from the River
Murray and their deposition as extensive downwind
sand sheets (Sprigg, 1979; Fig. 1).
The River Murray currently empties into a broad
former estuary, now an artificial lake (Lake Alexan-
drina), with only a single pass through the north-
western end of the barrier system. Although the focal
point of Australias largest drainage network (Fig. 1 ;
inset), the river system is not currently contributing a
significant amount of sediment to the shelf. Gradients
are extremely low along the distal 600 km or so and
flow is relatively sluggish, with the result that most of
the bedload is trapped in upstream point bar systems.
The relatively minor portion of the suspended load
which bypasses Lake Alexandrina and reaches the
ocean via the pass is widely dispersed by strong
longshore and tidal currents. The river channel itself
is graded to lower sea level stands, and is entrenched
more than 50 m into Tertiary limestones and Quater-
nary sediments of the Murray Basin.
MARINE ENVIRONMENT
Bathymetry
This area is best categorized as an open shelf (Ginsburg
& J ames, 1974) without an elevated rim. The shelf is
divisible into four depth-related segments, a steep
shoreface, a wide shallow shelf (-40 to -70 m), a
Cool water sediments, Lacepede SheK southern Australia
881
LINE52
100
...............................
.n
.............................. 400
",
......... .............................................
10km 1 I 500
I I Ian 1-n- _ _ _ P)
.....................................................
WU E
..............................................
........... ..............
n A n
..............
.................
400 \[;;
LINE51
.................................
500
600 v)
a
............................. 700 b
L,NE 53
...............................
200 ............................ 800 g
\.......... I 300 \ ............................ 1900
. _. ~ . o
...........
......
\. ...........
800 Sprigg Canyon
& Tributaries
.................
\- 600
I
k[;[ .................
1000
1100
Fig. 3. Detailed depth profiles across the edge of the Lacepede Shelf near the head of Sprigg Canyon (see Fig. 2 for location).
The depth of recurring terraces and ridges is indicated by arrows. SE =shelf edge.
gently seaward dipping middle shelf (- 70 to - 120 m)
and a steeper deep shelf (- 120 to - 200 m) leading to
the shelf edge at about -200 m. Shelf margin bottom
profiles are illustrated in Figs 3 and 4.
Shoreface
The Coorong Strand is a sand dune peninsula, the
outermost of the succession of prograding Quaternary
beach ridges and barriers. The adjacent sea floor is a
series of offshore bars which form the top of a
relatively steep shoreface that drops to the open shelf
plain at - 40 m in less than 5 km. This steep shoreface
passes south-eastwards into a broad, 12m deep
bedrock and sediment veneered terrace (Sprigg, 1979)
here called the Kingston Terrace. This arcuate terrace
becomes more pronounced southward and merges
with the offshore projection of Quaternary beach dune
complexes and Cenozoic bedrock known as Margaret
Brock Reefi
Shallow shelf
This is a wide, flat, 40-60m deep plateau on the
Lacepede Shelf (Fig. 2), brokenonly by bedrock highs
around the edge. The - 70 m contour is just inboard
of the -80 m line. Seaward of the Coorong Strand
the sea floor (- 40 to - 60 m) descends only 20 m in
160 km, a slope of 1 : 8000. The north-western part of
the shelf has irregular bathymetry, reflecting the
adjacent rugged topography of Kangaroo Island and
Fleurieu Peninsula horsts. This basement topography
is most dramatically expressed by Threshold Bank,
Carters KnoN and the elongate Sanders Bank (Fig. 2)
which rise 10-15 m above the surrounding sea floor.
High resolution seismic profiles show that Threshold
Bank is an uplifted basement block which marks the
faulted western margin of the Murray basin. Backstairs
Passage, between Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu
Peninsula, is a scoured sea floor swept by strong tidal
currents with little sediment accumulation.
882
- ..__..
. . . . . .
.....
.....
I 1
--
--
\ -
10km
N . P. James et al.
300
400 v)
- 500 2
a
600 E
-
-
-
-700
- 800
- 900
LINE 61
BONNEY SHELF
I
LACEPEDE
SHELF
SOUTH-EAST
KANGAROO ISLAND
M =Mound
T =Canyon tributary
The Bonney Shelf (Fig. 2) is comparatively narrow,
35-40 km on average, and characterized by linear
ridges and depressions whichmimic adjacent, onshore
Quaternary beach dune complexes and intervening
corridors. The most distinctive ridges are (1) a wide
complex which begins at - 100 to - 110 m and rises
to - 75 to - 80 m, and (2) a narrow ridge which rises
from - 50 to - 25 m (Fig. 4, lines 59,61).
Middle sheij
This zone varies from 10 to 15 km in width, except
south of Kangaroo Island, where it is 40 km wide. In
the central part of the region (Fig. 3, lines 48, 51, 52,
53 ; Fig. 4, lines 49,50), there is a zone of subaqueous
dunes and prominent seaward-dipping cuestas be-
tween depths of 70 and 130m. These cuestas are
interpreted on high resolution seismic profiles to be
the truncated tops of prograding clinoforms.
Deep shelf
This outer part of the shelf, rarely more than 10 km
wide, is a more steeply dipping and irregular slope.
There are prominent linear sea floor highs at - 130,
- 140 to - 150 and locally - 170 m.
SheIfedge
The main break in slope is at a depth of 200 f 20 m.
Whilst generally at a depth of 200 m, it is slightly
shallower (- 180 m) along the south-eastern Lacepede
Shelf and the Bonney Shelf, probably reflecting uplift
in the Gambier region.
Slope
The sea floor immediately below - 200 m is relatively
steep to a depth of about 300 m. This segment varies
from an escarpment to a steep incline (c.70"). Deeper
bottom topography is highly variable. In the central
part of the shelf, near the heads of submarine canyons,
the sea floor is steep and highly irregular. Arcuate
reflectors seen on GLORIA profiles and the morphol-
ogy (cf. Fig. 3, line 52) strongly suggest local slumping
and mass wasting. The upper reaches of canyons and
tributaries are typically slope-parallel before swinging
seaward at the main canyon.
Cool water sediments, Lacepede SheK southern Australia
883
Other upper slope profiles to the east and west
(Fig. 4, lines 49, 50) and those off the Bonney Shelf
which lead to the Beachport Terrace (Fig. 4, line 59)
are gentle inclines which dip seaward at 2-7". Isolated,
laterally discontinuous sea floor highs with relief of
50 m are interpreted as carbonate buildups, either
mounds or sediment drifts.
Oceanography
The shelf is swell-dominated. Davies (1980), Wright
et al. (1982) and Short & Hesp (1982) have described
the area as typified by high (> 2.5 m) modal deep
water wave heights. Long period (> 12 s) swell waves
are common, and wavelengths of 200 m have been
reported, with implications for sorting of sands by
oscillatory motion to water depths in excess of 100 m.
General water movement is to the south-east
throughout the year and is strongest in winter months,
resulting in general downwelling and low nutrient
levels. Physical structure of the waters is strongly
seasonal, being stratified over the summer period and
more vertically homogeneous through the winter
months. Stratification is due to incursion of deep, cold,
open ocean waters onto the shelf, largely because of
periodic strong summer winds from the south-west
which cause seasonal upwelling, especially along the
Bonney Shelf (Schahinger, 1987). Our temperature
profiles (Fig. 5, inset) taken during the summer months
indicate : (1) a mixed surface layer (0-30 m) averaging
WATER TEMPERATURE ("C)
5 10 15 20
SURFACE TEMPERATURE
_ __ __ -. SURFACE SALINITY
0 km
I
Fig. 5. The temperature and salinity of surface waters in the summer (12-20 March 1989). Inset: the summer and winter
temperature profiles for the area based on our observations in January 1991.
884 N. P. James et al.
18C; (2) a thermocline (30-80 m) dropping from
18C to, on average, 13C; and (3) deep water (below
80 m) decreasing about 1C per 100 m to 600 m, the
limit of our XBT measurements. During winter
months most of the shelf to depths of 100 m is covered
by waters of 17-1 8"C, with temperatures decreasing
roughly 1C per 50-100 m below that.
The River Murray does not appear to have much
influence on shelf waters. In contrast, the generally
eastward water movement along the shelf causes warm
saline waters from Gulf St Vincent (Bye, 1976) to spill
through Backstairs Passage and past Kangaroo Island
onto the western part of the shelf. Our surface salinity
measurements (Fig. 5) show a strong SE-NW gra-
dient. Cold (14-15C) waters with oceanic salinities
(35.17,,) on the Bonney Shelf in the south-east grade
across the Lacepede Shelf into relatively warm (19-
20C) and saline (35.979 waters in the west and north-
west. The pattern along the Lacepede Shelf edge was
similar in J anuary 1991 but surface waters on the
Bonney Shelf were, on average, 1C warmer and
0.03%, more saline inboard of the - 80 m contour.
SEDIMENTARY COMPONENTS
Sedimentary particles are terrigenous clastic, Holo-
cene carbonate and relict carbonate. Terrigenous
clastic grains are either clean or stained brown and
since the River Murray is not presently supplying
much sediment to the shelf, most are presumed relict.
Holocene skeletal particles are white or buff in colour
and their pores, although generally empty, locally
contain high-Mg calcite cements. Relict carbonate
grains, mostly late Pleistocene in age (see discussion
below), are conspicuously stained brown or red-
brown. The pores of relict skeletal grains are variably
filled with high-Mg calcite cement, iron oxide and/or
clay. Many particles in slope sediments are conspicu-
ously dark grey in colour and intensively bored.
Terrigenous
Sediments are mostly sand-sized and quartz-rich.
They vary from very fine to very coarse grained, with
the finer particles generally angular to subangular and
the medium to coarser fractions well rounded. Heavy
minerals are prominent in the sediments from the
Bonney Shelf. The composition of the terrigenous
clastics is the topic of a separate study.
Carbonate (Holocene and relict)
All particles are skeletal. The most abundant compo-
nents are bryozoa and a full spectrum of growth forms
(Nelson et al., 1988) are present (Fig. 6). The most
common are large, erect, robust branching Adeona
sp., fenestrate (reteporiform), robust branching
(adeonifom), foliaceous (eschariform), branching and
articulated (cellariiform), delicate branching (vincu-
lariiform), vagrant (lunulitiform) and unilaminar to
multilaminar massive to branching celleporiform
cheilostomes. Of particular importance in the finer
sand size fractions are the singlets from extremely
delicate, articulated catenicelliform cheilostomes. The
most common cyclostomes are delicate branching and
reteporiform.
Molluscs are locally as abundant as or more
abundant than bryozoa in terrigenous-rich facies. The
most common bivalves are the infaunal cockles
Katelysia, Glycymeris and Venericardia. The most
common gastropods are turitellids and the slit shell
Siliquaria. All the calcareous algae are rhodophytes;
corallines encrust, grow as branched forms (Metugo-
niolithon) and form rhodolites ; peyssonnellids encrust
and form sheets over loose sediment. Benthic forami-
nifera are ubiquitous, especially rotaliids, miliolids
and textulariids, with encrusting red Homotrema
especially conspicuous on particles in agitated envi-
ronments. Serpulid worm tubes occur as clusters and
single tubes. No hermatypic corals are present but the
ahermatypic forms Caryophyllia and Flabellum are
locally prominent. Brachiopods are omnipresent but
rare. Only the spines of infaunal irregular and
epifaunal regular echinoids were recovered. Coloured
gorgonian spicules occur throughout. Planktonic
foraminifera and ostracods, although present every-
where, are commonest in muddy, deep water sedi-
ments. Crab claws are widespread but never abundant.
There are several types of limestone lithoclasts.
Irregular to rounded pieces of skeletal wackestone to
packstone composed of magnesium calcite, calcite
and aragonite (confirmed by staining) and which
contain large calcareous skeletons are interpreted to
be Pleistocene/Holocene in age. Such clasts are usually
intensively bored. Fine skeletal grainstone composed
of rounded particles and cemented with calcite is
identical to Pleistocene aeolianites onshore. Fine
grained, muddy, friable to well cemented bryozoa
limestone (locally with grey chert) is interpreted to be
Cenozoic (Gambier Limestone and equivalents).
Quite separate and distinct are chocolate-brown (5YR
314 to 4/4), iron-oxide impregnated, bivalve-rich
Cool water sediments, Lacepede SheK southern Australia
885
Fig. 6. A sample of bryozoa sand (sample number 71) froma depth of 130 m on the Lacepede Shelf. (a) The complete sample
including finer sizes; prominent bivalve is Venericardiu sp. (b) The coarse grained fraction only, illustrating most of the major
sediment producers: (1) delicate, branching cyclostome and cheilostome bryozoa; (2) reteporiformcheilostomes; (3) robust
branching cheilostomes; (4) Adeonu sp. with encrusting unilaminar cheilostome ; ( 5 ) brachiopod (terebratulid); (6) Chlurnys
sp.; (7) gorgonian spicules; (8) serpulid wormcluster; (9) Siliquaria sp. (c) Sea floor of small sand dunes textured byirregular
ripples; numerous large sponges are 10-20 cmhigh. (d) Closeup of the seafloor showing rooted Adeona sp. 20 cmhigh (lower
centre).
calcarenite pebbles and cobbles, whose origin is
uncertain. Relict detrital, clear to red-brown, zoned
Pleistocene dolomite, in the form of single crystals
and crystal aggregates, occurs in most shelf sediments
(Bone et al., 1992).
AGE AND COMPOSI TI ON OF REL I CT
SKEL ETONS
Bryozoa
The age of relict particles is controversial. In this
region they are generally thought to originate from
nearby, poorly cemented, easily erodable, composi-
tionally similar Cenozoic limestones (cf. J ones &
Davies, 1983). To confirm the antiquity of these
particles, representative adeonid and delicate cheilo-
stome rods were sorted under the binocular microscope
and 250 mg dated at Isotrace (University of Toronto;
Table 1). Particle mineralogy of 17 representative
samples was determined by staining (Clayton Yellow;
Choquette & Trusell, 1978) and electron microprobe
analysis.
The mineralogy of Holocene and relict bryozoa is
identical. Adeonids are aragonite with an axial core
of high-Mg calcite (11-13 mol% MgC03). Cheilo-
stomes are partly low-Mg calcite (3-5 mol% MgC03)
and partly high-Mg calcite (9-12 mol% MgC03).
Cenozoic bryozoa, in contrast, are all low-Mg calcite
(J ames & Bone, 1989). Relict samples are bored by
microendoliths and both those holes and the zooecia
886 N. P. J ames et al.
Table 1. 14C age (years BP) of bryozoan particles.
Adeonid Cheilostome
rods
Living Coloured +114.4f0.7
Clean, white fresh 180f50 400 f 50
Holocene Abraded
- 780 f 50
Light grey
- 1430f 120
Relict Stained 21750k 150 17960+120
are variably filled with red/brown iron oxides and/or
oxidized glauconite/berthierine.
The 14C age of the fresh or abraded Holocene
particles is less than 1000 years BP (Table 1) whilst
grey cheilostome rods are 1400yearsBP. Relict bryozoa
have 14C ages of 21 750 and 17 960 years BP. This is
viewed as a minimum age because it is an integral of
the age of the skeleton and the age of the oxide/clay
infill.
In summary, the relect bryozoa particles are not
Cenozoic but most likely late Pleistocene in age. They
have not suffered any obvious diagenetic alteration
except for filling of pores.
Bivalves
The 14C age of bivalves is variable, ranging from 9000
to 31 000 years BP. Regardless, like the bryozoa, they
indicate a mixed late Pleistocene and Holocene
assemblage.
DEPTH LIMITS OF LIVING BRYOZOA
AND CORALLINE ALGAE
Coralline algae
As the only important calcareous phototrophs, coral-
line algae are useful universal indicators of shallow
water subtidal sedimentary environments in the rock
record. Most living calcareous algae were determined
from the samples where colour clearly indicated extant
forms, while others were identified by B. Wommersley
(University of Adelaide) from specimens preserved in
formalin. Coralline algal rods, however, once dead,
are difficult to determine in sediment, so the sediments
from the outer shelf were analysed in thin section.
Depth distribution plots for living coralline algae are
given in Table 2. The number of samples containing
living algae and the total number of samples taken at
that depth is recorded for each 10 m interval.
Crustose corallines are living to a depth of 100 m,
Table 2. The presence of living coralline and peyssonnellid algae.
Water Encrusting Branching Encrusting
depth corallines corallines peyssonnelids
(m)
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
110
120
130
140
150
0-0.
0-0
3-9
3-10
3-13
3-14
8-15
1-6
1-5
5-17
2-6
0 4
0-4
0-3
0-2
0-0
0-0
1-9
1-10
2-1 3
1-14
1-15
0-6
0-5
0-1 7
0-6
0-4
0 4
0-3
0-2
0-0
0-0
2-9
1-10
4-13
2-14
1-15
1-6
1-5
1-17
1-6
0-4
0-4
0-3
0-2
* First number is the number of samples containing algae; second number is the
total number of samples at that depth.
Depth ranges: encrusting corallines, 0-100 m; branching corallines, 0-60 m;
encrusting peyssonnelids, 0-100 m.
Cool water sediments, Lacepede SheK southern Australia
887
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as are peyssonnelids. Dead rhodoliths occur to a depth - 125 m. Living bryozoa can, with some overlap, be
of 120 m. Robust branching corallines (Metugonioli- divided into four depth-related assemblages.
thon) grow in waters shallower than 70m. Thin
sections reveal that particles of branching corallines (1) Shelf (10-1 10 m). Small numbers of the large,
occur in small numbers (2% to much less than 1% of conspicuous cheilostome Adeona sp. along with large
the sediment) to depths of 240 m. These corallines are numbers of catenecelliform, membraniporiform, del-
by all appearances fresh, not relict, but there is no way icate articulated branching, reteporiform, robust
to determine this for certain. branching adeoniform and lunulitiforms.
SAMPLE CONTROL
RIGID DELICATE BRANCHING * 2
I
CATENECELLIIFORM (Singlets)* P
- 8
CELLEPORIFORM BRANCHING 8
CELLEPORIFORM MASSIVE %
CELLEPORIFORM ROUND
P
8
MEMBRANIFORM (Encrusting)
VINCULARIFORM (Rods) * p
ADEONIFORM (Flatbranching)* 5
ADEONA SP.
' LUNULITIFORM (Free living)
- v 8
Bryozoa
A bryozoa particle or colony was considered living if
it contained: (1) brown bodies; (2) an operculum, in
the case of cheilostomes; (3) an outer organic sheath;
and (4) the skeleton was coloured. Sea floor samples
give a reasonable coverage to a depth of 425 m, but
samples below this depth are sparse (Fig. 7). The next
sample site below - 425 m is at - 560 m, and there
are no living bryozoa at this deeper site or below.
Since several forms live to depths of 425 m, their
deepest occurrences lie somewhere between - 425
and -560 m.
All cheilostomes except celleporiform types are
living at the shallowest depths sampled. Delicate
catenecellids extend to depths of 425 m whilst all
others except the celleporiforms do not seem to grow
below - 250 m. Delicate, branching cyclostomes grow
to at least -425 m in this study but it is uncertain
whether they are extant in waters shallower than
(2) Shelfedge (1 10-200 m). The zone of most diverse
growth comprising the ubiquitous delicate, branching
cyclostomes and catenecellid cheilostomes together
with large numbers of articulated delicate-branching
fenestrate reteporiform, robust adeoniform cheilos-
tomes and smaller numbers of membraniporiform,
lunulitiform, membraniporiform and celleporiform
cheilostomes.
( 3) Top of slope (200-250 m). Articulated, delicate,
branching and catenecellid cheilostomes, delicate,
branching cyclostomes and lesser celleporiform chei-
lostomes of variable morphology.
(4) Upper slope (250-?450 m). Delicate, branching
cyclostomes and catenecelliform cheilostomes with
variable multilaminar celleporiform cheilostomes.
The components in sediments generally correspond
to these assemblages, with particles displaced by
1 @ 101@ I @ ASSEMBLAGES
600 500 400 300 200 100 ODEPTH (m)
888
N. P. James et al.
gravity downwards as much as 50 m on the deep shelf
and upper slope.
Bivalves
There is a general trend in the distribution of infaunal
bivalves. Donax is ubiquitous in the surf zone.
Katalysia generally occurs across the shallow shelf to
depths of about 80 m. Glycymeris is more common on
the shelf between -60 and - 140 m. Venericardia is
typical of the mid- to deep shelf, usually between
depths of 80 and 140m and less abundant deeper.
Epifaunal bivalve distribution is not as clear. They
are most abundant on and around bedrock highs,
palaeostrandlines, outer shelf and upper slope. Chla-
mys occurs across the shelf to depths of 140 m and
sporadically to depths of 350 m. Si!iquaria and Lima,
both sponge dwellers, are most abundant on the deep,
outer shelf and upper slope.
COMPOSITION AND TEXTURE OF
HOLOCENE CARBONATE SEDIMENT
Composition and texture of bioclastic carbonate
sediments is a function of the inherent size and
articulation of skeletal hard parts (Ginsburg et al.,
1963; J ames, 1984) locally modified by bioerosion.
Modern carbonates on the Lacepede and Bonney
shelves illustrate this axiom exceptionally well.
Carbonate in the silt and clay fraction has only been
studied in a reconnaissance fashion. It is mostly whole
and fragmented coccoliths and singlets of articulated
catenecellid bryozoa. In life, the singlets, or single
zooecia of catenecellids, are attached to one another
at nodes by organic tissue (Fig. 8). This connective
tissue disintegrates upon death and the colony pro-
duces hundreds of tiny particles. They vary from well
calcified to very lightly calcified. Such delicate singlets
are easily transported and fragmented. Ostracod
valves and small planktonic foraminifera1 tests are
also important, as are siliceous sponge spicules. Most
mud is 15-20% terrigenous silt and clay.
Fine sand sized grains are the most ubiquitous
components and are found in varying amounts from
the strandline to the slope, regardless of facies.
Delicate, branching cyclostome and catenecellid chei-
lostome bryozoa, and benthic foraminifera, together
with siliceous sponge spicules, make up most of this
fraction. The delicate, erect, rigid branching cyclo-
stomes are preserved as single rods or bifurcating
twigs. The singlets of articulated catenecellids are,
however, more common. Medium and coarse grained
sand is mostly large benthic foraminifera, bivalve
fragments and pieces of cheilostome bryozoa. Unlike
finer grains, these particles generally show signs of
abrasion.
Whole cheilostome bryozoa and mollusc skeletons
dominate the very coarse grained sand and cobble
sized fraction. Bryozoa are larger pieces to branched
segments of robust branching adeoniforms, large,
Fig. 8. Sample of a catenecellid cheilostome bryozoa (sample 6). The photograph to the right shows individual zooecia (singlets)
attached to one another by organic tissue which disintegrates upon death, resulting in numerous fine grained sand sized
carbonate particles.
Cool water sediments, Lacepede SheK southern Australia 889
semi-complete fenestrate reteporiforms together with
complete multilaminar branching and massive celle-
poriforms, plates of Adeona sp. and whole small
colonies of vagrant lunulitiforms.
SEDIMENTARY FACIES
Introduction
Sediments form six major facies (Table 3; Figs 9 &
10). Shelf deposits are grainy with variable amounts
of quartz and relict particles. Calcareous quartz sands
and quartzose bryozoalbivalve sands blanket much of
the shallow shelf. The middle shelf is covered by clean
bryozoa sands. Mixtures of these sediments, variable
amounts of relict material and transition zones
between major facies form subfacies of slightly
different composition. Deposits below swellbase are
generally muddy, contain little quartz and have few
obvious relict particles. The deep shelf, shelf edge and
top of slope are covered by bryozoa muds and the slope
proper is cloaked by pelagic muds. Coarse grained
bivalve-coral gravels occur in deep water on the upper
slope in the south-east.
(1) Calcareous quartz sand (Fig. 9)
Typically fine grained, quartz-rich sands, these sedi-
ments contain variable proportions of relict and
Holocene carbonate, particularly bivalves and lime-
stone cobbles.
1A. Molluscan quartz sand is fine to medium grained
and generally very well sorted. Bivalves are mostly
infaunal, mainly Donax sp. nearshore and Katelysia
sp. below 40 m on the open shelf plain. The sea floor
is smooth and monotonous; bottom photographs
PELAGIC FORAM
HOLOCENE CARBONATE
I 0 I km 100 I
Fig. 9. Sedimentary facies on the shelf. Pie diagrams graphically depict the average composition of these facies whose
percentage composition is tabulated in Fig. 10.
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Cool water sediments, Lacepede Shelf; southern Australia 891
I
km
28 PUARTZOSE BRYOZOAN 0 10 20
SAND 3 ROBUST BRYOZOAN
Fig. 10. A schematic profile across the shelf edge of the region under study, distilled from the profiles in Figs 3 & 4. Pie
diagrams graphically depict the average composition of the sedimentary facies (tabulated in the inset). Values are means and
actual samples are generally f 10%. Dashed lines separate the facies; key to the pie diagrams is given in Fig. 9. Note the
location of wave base.
(Fig. 11) reveal clean sediments with small straight-
crested wave ripples (1&15 cm apart) and no large
organisms other than burrowing anemones.
IB. Bivalve-cobble quartz sand along the Coorong
strand is variably calcareous (Sprigg, 1952). Relict
particles are worn bivalve and bryozoagrains, together
with conspicuous limestone cobbles. Holocene grains
are almost entirely fragments of the prolific surf clam
Donax deltoides.
(2) Quartzose bryozoa/bivalve sand (Fig. 9)
These sediments are mixtures of facies 1 (calcareous
quartzose sand) and facies 3 (robust bryozoa sand,
described below) with variable, often high, propor-
tions of relict particles and occur in areas intermediate
and transitional between the two facies.
2A. Quartzose bryozoa-bivalve sand lies along the
northern edge of the Lacepede Shelf near Kangaroo
Island and across the Margaret Brock Reef -Kingston
Terrace area. It also forms most of the sediment on
the Bonney Shelf. Sediments are those of facies 2B (a
mixture of robust bryozoa sand and relict grains) and
facies 1A (calcareous quartz sand). Important modem
bivalves are Glycymeris, Katelysia and Chlamys. There
are also rare slit shells and a variety of small gastropods
(olives, cones, periwinkles and cerithids).
2B. Quartzose bryozoa sand is a mixture of the
robust bryozoa sand (facies 3 described below) and
obvious brown relict particles, giving the sediment a
speckled brown and cream or salt and pepper
appearance. Noticeably worn bivalve fragments are
present in some areas while other regions contain
worn small brown lithoclast pebbles. The most
892
N. P. James et al.
Fig. 11. (a) Molluscan quartz sand facies; sea floor photograph at a depth of 45 m illustrating straight crested wave ripples
orientated NW-SE and burrowing anemonies (compass is 8 cmin diameter). @) A sample of this facies composed of
calcareous quartz sand and large particles of (1) relict lithoclast, (2) relict bivalve, (3) Circomphulus disjectu, (4) Nuculunu sp.,
(5) Solon uuginoides, and (6) Kutulysiu sp. (c) Bottom photograph of the relict limestone gravel facies at a depth of 57 m on the
Lacepede Shelf illustrating coarse lithoclasts and bivalves at left and scattered rhodolites at centre (compass is 8 cmin
diameter). (d) Sample photograph of the branching coralline algal gravel facies composed mostly of Metugoniolithon with
scattered Glycymeris (1) and reteporiform bryozoa (2). Sample depth 40 m.
noticeable large bryozoa are Adeona sp., robust erect
branching adeoniforms, and scattered large, multilam-
inar, globose to irregular Cellepora sp. The most
abundant bivalves are the infaunal cockle Glycymeris
sp. and the epifaunal scallop Chlamys sp., together
with fragments of the epifaunal hammer oyster
Malleus sp. and minor valves of the infaunal cockle
Katelysia sp. The only gastropod of importance is the
slit shell Siliquaria sp.
2C. Relict limestone gravel comprises granules to
cobbles to scattered boulders of limestone (usually fine
grained calcarenite), abundant bivalves and shelf
sands of facies 2A and 2B. Clasts are stained chocolate
brown (5YR 314 to 414) to yellow brown (10YR 5/4),
and usually bored and/or encrusted by coralline or
peysonnellid calcareous algae. Bivalves are mostly
whole to very abraded Chlamys and/or worn Glycy-
meris, together with large and robust shells of the
epifaunal forms Cleidothaerus and Ostrea, smaller and
more delicate valves of the epifaunal nut shell
Nuculana and the small epifaunal arc Barbatia, the
hammer oyster Malleus as well as variable numbers of
Katelysiu. The most common relict bryozoa are
eschariforms. Bottom photographs (Fig. 11) reveal
ridges to sheets of limestone pebbles and bivalve
coquinas with bryozoa growing on many of the larger
particles. These deposits occur in sublinear bands at
depths of 40 and 65 m and are similar to sediments
adjacent to the present shoreline. They are interpreted
to represent palaeostrandlines.
2D. Branching coralline algal gravel (Fig. 11) is
composed not only of the branching coralline Meta-
goniolithon sp., but numerous bryozoa, especially large
pieces of Adeona sp. I t is localized to the northern part
Cool water sediments, Lacepede Shelf, southern Australia
893
of the shelf where the bedrock highs of Sanders Bank,
Threshold Bank and Carters Knoll rise to within 30 m
of the surface. Poor but useable bottom photographs
and several bottom samples of these highs indicate
surfaces veneered by a wide variety of encrusting and
rooted (particularly eschariform) bryozoa, multiple
layers of crustose coralline and peyssonneiid algae,
coppices of branching coralline algae, small clusters
of brachiopods and intergrowths of serpulid worms.
Between and extending above this low level biota is
an abundant and extraordinarily diverse fauna of
demosponges. Rooted between all these organisms
and rising into the water column in great profusion
are fleshy red algae and kelp, which are locally the
ephemeral substrate for other encrusting calcareous
algae, bryozoa and foraminifera. Particles from this
sediment factory are shed onto the surrounding sea
floor where they locally dilute the relict carbonate and
quartz grains.
(3) Robust bryozoa sands (- 80 to - 140 m) (Figs 9 &
Nearly pure bryozoa sands (Fig. 6), these sediments
10)
are typified by diverse but robust bryozoa which are
variably abraded. Precision depth profiles indicate
large subaqueous dune fields in the zone of seaward-
dipping clinoforms. Bottom photographs reveal rock
substrates covered by variable thicknesses of coarse
grained sediment with environments ranging from
rippled sands to starved ripples to an open hard sea
floor dusted with sediment (Figs 12 & 13). Ripples to
small subaqueous dunes have estimated spacings of
30-60 cm and heights of 10-30 cm, are symmetrical,
straight-crested to bifurcating and their crests are
either sharp and linear or textured by smaller ripples
and always orientated NW-SE. Hard substrates are
generally flat with centimetre scale irregular relief.
Clasts recovered are similar in composition and
mineralogy (confirmed by staining) to the loose
sediments. Most photographs show starved small
dunes to large ripples with abundant organisms
growing on hard substrates in the troughs between
bedforms. Open rippled sands are barren except for
local areas where the surface is 2040% covered by
organisms and sands between are rippled in a
disorganized fashion. Open hard rock substrates are
invariably 50-60% covered by sessile benthos. The
I
HARD SUBSTRATE
I I n
CLI NOFORMS AND SAND WAVES
Fig. 12. Robust bryozou sund fucies; depth 120 m. A sketch of our interpretation of the carbonate sand-hard substrate setting
of this environment with bottom photographs illustrating the different types of sea floor. (a) Numerous sponges ( S) and
catenecellid bryozoa shrubs about 20 cm wide (C) on a hard substrate. @) Starved linear wave ripple about 40 cm across on a
hard substrate, populated at lower left by sponges and bryozoa. (c) Linear wave ripples with crests about 6 5 0 cm apart
textured by smaller ripples. All wave ripples are orientated NW-SE.
894 N. P. James et al.
Fig. 13. Robust bryozoa sandfacies. (a) Linear wave ripple about 40 cm across (S) and irregular hard limestone surface (H)
populated by sponges and bryozoa; depth 120 m. @) Linear sand ripples spaced about 30 cm apart with heights of about
10 cm; depth 120 m. (c) Sea floor marked by small centimetre high ripples, pockmarked by a few burrow openings and
colonized by scattered catenecellid bryozoa shrubs up to 10 cm high; depth 130 m. (d) Robust muddy sandfacies; open sea floor
textured by diffuse ripples and dotted with burrow openings 6 cm in diameter; depth 140 m.
sea floor below 120 m is mostly rippled sediment with
few large organisms.
The most obvious benthos are sponges, generally
upright flat planar to digitate oscular forms (cf.
Mycale, Zophon, Chondropis, Clathria) or globular types
(cf. Ancorina; Fig. 12). They grow together with
numerous hydroids and bryozoa, the most noticeable
of which are catenecellids and Adeona sp.
Sediments contain no mud and virtually no quartz,
and are poorly sorted and of greatly varying grain size.
Grains and granules range from fresh to abraded to
encrusted by bryozoa, corallines and foraminifera.
Bryozoa grains are diverse and distinguished by large
Adeona sp., robust rigid branching adeoniform,
reteporiform and erect flexible cellariiform cheilo-
stomes, and erect, rigid, delicate, branching cyclo-
stomes. Unilaminar membraniporiform cheilostomes,
which encrust algae and grasses, are not abundant,
but are ubiquitous. Broken fragments are encrusted
by the foraminifer Homotrema sp. Massive and
branching Cellepora sp. are also frequent. Large,
vagrant, lunulitiforms are scattered throughout.
Although there is less than 10% Holocene mollusc
particles by volume, large molluscs are diverse and
conspicuous. The most important gastropods are
infaunal turitellids and the sponge-inhabiting coiled
slit shell Siliquaria sp. Cones, cowries, olives and
volutes and the fragments of helmet shells are
ubiquitous but never abundant. Bivalves include
infaunal Venericardia, large and small Glycyrneris sp.,
and epifaunal Neotrigonia sp. and Chlarnys sp. Also
present in lesser numbers are the small epifaunal arc
Barbatia sp. and the jingle shell or saddle oyster
Anomia sp. Other prominent components are irregular
rhodolites (clumps of corallines and peyssonnelids),
clusters of serpulids, large spines from regular echi-
Cool water sediments, Lacepede SheK southern Australia 895
noids and crab claws. Small ahermatypic corals such
as Trematotrochus and Caryophyllia are attached to
larger bryozoa and rhodolites.
(4) Bryozoa muds
These green and poorly sorted sediments cover the
deep outer shelf, shelf edge and upper slope, becoming
progressively depleted in bryozoa with increasing
depth.
4A. Robust bryozoa muddy sand (- 140 to - 250 m)
is fine to very fine grained, well sorted, muddy sand
and contains variable numbers of large bryozoa.
Bottom photographs (Fig. 13) of the upper parts of
this zone ( - 140 to - 170 m) depict a gradual transition
from shallower rippled coarse sands (facies 3) to these
more muddy sediments; the sharp crested linear
ripples (10-15 cm height, 1&30 cm spacing) die out
between - 140 and - 150 m and grade, with depth,
into areas of subdued, more bifurcating ripples (5-
10 cm high, 2-5 cm spacing) textured by smaller
confused and irregular ripples interspaced with re-
gions with no obvious physical sedimentary structures,
but pockmarked by numerous burrows. Areas of the
seafloortodepthsof 170 m, althoughmostlyburrowed,
are locally textured by subdued centimetre scale
diffuse ripples with ladder ripples in their troughs that
have been modified by burrowing.
The shelf edge between - 180 and - 200 m (Fig. 14)
is a relatively flat to gently undulating surface dimpled
with centimetre size depressions and bumps, pock-
marked with vertical burrow openings and disturbed
by occasional trails of the mobile benthos. Numerous,
small, centimetre size or less, delicate, branching
Fig. 14. Robust bryozoa muddy sand facies at the shelf edge; depth 175 m. (a) Sea floor with clusters of branching bryozoa
(arrows) and shrubs of catenecellid bryozoa (width of photograph=0.5 m). (b) Bryozoa growth similar to that in (a), illustrating
high density of branching forms (width of photograph=c.lO cm). (c) Sediment sample with numerous branching bryozoa (1)
and turitellid gastropods (2). (d) Bivalve-coral gravel facies; depth 25c300 m. Coarse grained fraction of sample consisting of
(1) reteporiform bryozoa, (2) small globular celleporiform bryozoa, (3) free-living lunulitiform bryozoa, (4) lithoclasts, ( 5 ) crab
claws, (6) regular echinoid spine, (7) ahermatypic coral, (8) Glycymeris, (9) Chlamys, (10) Karulysiu, and (11) turitellid
gastropod.
896 N. P. James et al.
bryozoa grow either scattered across the sea floor or
clumped in patches 10-30 cm across. These clusters
are dense intergrowths of bryozoa (especially adeonids
and catenecellids), small sponges and hydroids that
form a ground-cover to heights of roughly 10 cm.
Sediments (Fig. 14) contain 10-20% mud, no quartz
and roughly 10% relict particles. Branching adeonids,
reteporids, unilaminar membraniporids and delicate,
branching cheilostomes and cyclostomes are common
throughout, but Adeona sp. is absent. A particularly
noticeable bryozoa is a relatively thin, hollow tubular
celleporiform. Scattered throughout are Venericardia,
the epifaunal sponge-associated Lima sp., and the
scallop Chlamys sp. Thin conical turitellid gastropods
are present, but scarce. Other particularly noticeable
fine particles are siliceous sponge and calcareous
gorgonian spicules, serpulid tubes, echinoid pieces
and pteropods.
4B. Delicate, branching bryozoa mud (-25 to -
350 m) mantles the base of the escarpment and the
top of the slope. The coarse grained fraction is almost
entirely branching cyclostome bryozoa (1 5% of ma-
terial). Other scattered bryozoa are minor adeonids,
reteporiforms and Cellepora sp. As in the shallower
muddy facies, small hollow tubular bryozoa are
common. Cellepora sp. is in the form of irregular
encrusting sheets, free small particles, and subhemi-
spheres up to 6 cm in diameter. The only bivalves are
Chlamys sp. and Venericardia sp. while the sparse
gastropods are the slit shell (Siliquaria sp.), turitellids,
olives and whelks. Other components are solitary
corals, regular echinoid spines, siliceous sponge
spicules, pteropods and serpulid tubes.
4C. Bryozoa pelagic mud (-350 to -500m) is
pelagic mud (facies 6) variably rich in catenecellid
singlets with the only large bryozoa of importance
being vagrant lunuliiforms. The only other scattered
bryozoa particles are cyclostome branches. There are
no living bryozoa. Agglutinated benthic foraminifera
are conspicuous. The miniscule number of molluscs
are tiny cerithid-like gastropods and pteropods. There
are no bivalves.
(5) Bivalvecoral gravel (- 150 to - 300 m)
These grey (IOYR 6/2) to brown (IOYR 5/4), coarse
grained sediments occur off the Bonney Shelf (Fig. 9).
Particles are abraded, fragmented and bored. The
sediments are difficult to summarize because of the
wide depth range over which they occur, but in general
they are coarse grained in shallow water and become
finer with more planktonic elements in deeper water.
They contain 1045% quartz and 2040% black, old
relict grains. Bryozoa particles outnumber bivalves
in the ratio of 2 : 1. Bryozoa are mostly catenecellids,
adeonids, reteporids, articulated branching and nu-
merous vagrant lunulitiforms. Cyclostomes are absent
in shallow samples (1 50-1 75 m) and present in small
numbers in deeper sediments. Bivalves are mostly
worn Glycymeris sp. with rare Katelysia sp., Chlamys
sp., Ostrea sp. and the infaunal intertidal shell Mactra-
sp. Gastropods are turitellids and tulips. The most
conspicuous aspect of these sediments (Fig. 14),
besides their grey colour, is the ubiquity of solitary
corals (particularly Flabellum sp.) and vagrant lunuli-
tiform bryozoa. Other particles are limestone litho-
clasts, siliceous sponge spicules and pteropods.
Aside from the ahermatypic corals, these sediments
are most similar to the modem on-shelf facies 2A
(quartzose bryozoa-bivalve sand), which forms most
of the Bonney Shelf sediments between -40 and
-70 m. Thus, this part of the shelf edge and upper
slope has either been an area of non-deposition since
the late Pleistocene or the overlying Holocene sedi-
ments have been removed by mass wasting.
(6) Pelagic muds (Foram-nanno ooze)
These sediments, which uniformly cloak most of the
continental slope below - 500 m, are muds whose
only coarse particles are fine sand to silt sized tests of
benthic and planktonic foraminifera and hyaline
fragments of ostracod, foraminifera and pteropods.
Sponge spicules and faecal pellets are also conspicu-
ous. Quartz silt is important locally.
SEDIMENTS AND LATE
QUATERNARY SEA LEVEL HISTORY
Facies on this open shelf are the result of: (1)
terrigenous clastic sediment input from land and
carbonate sediment diagenesis during sea level low-
stands; (2) strandline reworking during each sea level
rise, stillstand and fall; (3) modem reworking of
sediment deposited during previous highstands ; and
(4) Holocene sea floor sediment production.
Late Pleistocene
Fluctuations of sea level over the last 150 000 years,
as currently understood, are illustrated in Fig. 15.
Cool water sediments, Lacepede Shex southern Australia
897
GULF
ST VINCENT
SPENCER GULF
0
.....
E
w
>
a -100
-50
! !
w Ul
-1 50
0 25 50 75 100 125 150
YEA RSx l d
Fig. 15. Generalized late Quaternary sea level curve (from
Chappell & Shackleton, 1986) showing sea level highstands
from Spencer Gulf (Hails et al , 1984) and Gulf St Vincent
(Cann et al., 1988). The depth of the open shelf plain on the
Lacepede Shelf (stippled) is superimposed on this curve to
illustrate its relationship to fluctuating sea level. Note that
Cann er al. (1988) reported significantly higher stage 3 sea
levels than depicted by Chappell & Shackleton (1986).
When the depth of the extensive open shelf plain,
between -40 and - 60 m, is superimposed on the sea
level curve for southern Australia, it is clear that most
of the shelf has been at or just below sea level for much
of late Pleistocene time (isotope stages 3 and 4;
Shackleton & Opdyke, 1976; Shackleton, 1986). Cann
et al. (1988) recognized highstands at 40 ka (- 22.5 m)
and 31 ka (-22 m) with an intervening lowstand at
36 ka during which sea level fell to - 28 m in Gulf St
Vincent. The Lacepede Shelf during this period would
have been a shallow, relatively low energy shelf with
most wave action damped out by the shallow sea floor
at the shelf edge. The strandline would still have been
located close to its present position because of the
steep shoreface. Shelf environments would have
ranged from strandline to lagoon to shallow open
shelf.
Sprigg (1979) identified a prominent nickpoint (the
SAORI submerged coast) at - 100 to - 11 1 m along
southern Australia, and interpreted it as a bench
eroded during the major lowstand in sea level between
18 and 20 ka (isotope stage 2; Shackleton & Opdyke,
1976). The submarine topography between - 130 and
- 110 m resembles the modern profile of the Coorong
Strand, and is similarly interpreted here as a palaeo-
coastal dune complex and correlated with the late
Pleistocene lowstand at 18-20 ka. Lowstand features
associated with this last major glaciation have been
identified at similar depths off Queensland, Australia,
and South Island, New Zealand (Carter et al., 1986).
The course of the lower reaches of the River Murray
is along the western side of the Murray Basin, because
of uplift along the Mt Gambier axis. Seismic profiles
confirm that the River Murray palaeochannel is
buried beneath modern sediments along the north-
western side of the Lacepede Shelf. Thus, during
lowstands, the main water flow was across the shelf
and into the Murray submarine canyon system. Whilst
much sediment was probably funnelled into deep
water via these canyons, if the past is any guide
(Fig. l), sand was also blown out of the channel
eastward across the shelf as extensive sand sheets.
Such aeolian transport would have been enhanced by
the northward shift of the roaring forties low pressure
systems and increased sediment load brought on by
swollen runoff in the source area to the north. The
lack of quartz in any sediments in waters deeper than
70 m also suggests that offshelf sediment transport
was restricted to channels. The terrigenous sands
which blanket the open shelf plain (facies 1A) are
thus interpreted to be largely relict, spread across a
flat exposed shelf by fluvial/aeolian action during shelf
exposure.
Holocene transgression
The relatively level shelf sea floor and lack of much
topographic relief, except locally on the Bonney Shelf,
suggests that the Holocene transgression reworked
much of the late Pleistocene sediment, leaving a
ravinement surface and a bevelled sea floor. This
flatness is enhanced by modern swells which continu-
ously sweep the shelf plain. Relict terrigenous clastics
swept out across the shelf plain during previous
lowstands have been mixed with relict carbonate
grains from interstadial highstands and together form
the substrate for modern, largely infaunal bivalves.
Palaeostrandline deposits (facies 2C) contain both
late Pleistocene and Holocene bivalves and as such
probably represent old nearshore complexes populated
by younger Holocene communities. Coralline algae
and bryozoa flourish only on bedrock highs above the
sediment plain.
The outer shelf below a depth of 70m was
submerged for most of late Pleistocene time. The
proportion of obvious relict particles is low and the
sea floor, subject to less agitated conditions than
shallower environments, is the site of mostly bryozoa
carbonate production. The sediments are actively
moved by waves and swells and it is a zone of
carbonate sand accumulation : any mud produced here
is probably winnowed out and deposited in deeper
water.
898
N. P. J ames et al.
DISCUSSION
Sedimentary facies
Shelf facies in water depths of less than 80 m are
palimpsest. All sediments contain quartz and in most
areas the carbonate is at least 50% relict. Since there
appears to be little transport of quartzose sand onto
the shelf today this means that at most these sediments
have 45%, and usually less, modem carbonate
material. Linear zones and diffuse areas of lithoclast
gravel at depths of c.40 and 65 m are interpreted as
palaeoshoreline deposits. The largest amounts of
Holocene carbonate are on the outer shelf in deeper
water, which was submerged for proportionally longer
periods during late Quaternary time compared to the
mid- and inner shelf.
There is a dramatic change at a depth of about 80 m
on the Lacepede Shelf where the outer shelf bryozoa
facies, which contains insignificant quartz and less
than 20% relict particles, is essentially modern. This
facies can be thought of as the outer shelf carbonate
factory, equivalent in style to a tropical barrier reef,
but manifest here as a sand facies in much deeper
water. This distinction is less obvious on the Bonney
Shelf, where outer shelf sediments contain more
quartz and relict grains, probably because the shelf is
narrower and closer to land.
This deep water bryozoa carbonate factory is broken
into high and low energy facies by swellbase at about
-140m. Above this depth sediments are coarse
grained, abraded and conspicuously rippled with
robust bryozoa growing on hard substrates and in
isolated patches. Below this depth sediments are
distinctly muddy and delicate bryozoa are more
common. The sea floor between - 350 and - 500 m is
a transition zone with muddy bryozoa carbonates
grading into pelagic carbonate muds.
This broad distribution of modem major carbonate
grain types (bivalve-rich inner shelf, bivalve- and
bryozoa-rich middle shelf and bryozoa-dominated
outer shelf to upper slope) is like that on New Zealand
shelves (Nelsonet al., 1981, 1988; Carter etal., 1985).
Tnfaunal bivalves appear to be most prevalent in the
terrigenous inner shelf facies whereas epifaunal
bivalves are more common on the outer shelf. The
most productive open shelf environments in terms of
carbonate sediments are bedrock highs where coral-
line algae and bryozoa grow in abundance. The overall
pattern is also similar to that off south-westem
Australia, except that on the Rottnest Shelf an outer
shelf band of coralline algal sand separates an inner
shelf terrigenous sand facies (related to the Swan
River) from a shelf edge bryozoa facies (Collins,
1988). The facies pattern is unlike that summarized
for cool water shelves and banks in the North Atlantic
(Wilson, 1979; Scoffin et a[., 1980; Scoffin & Bowes,
1988) where barnacles are significant, particularly in
shallow water; serpulids are abundant in mid-shelf
depths; bryozoa, while present, are not important
sediment producers across the environmental spec-
trum; Lophelia coral patches are present on the slope.
Wave energy
Apart from the lack of reef-building skeletal meta-
zoans, reflecting cool waters of the Southern Ocean,
the high sea state is the most critical parameter
determining sedimentary facies on this shelf. This
seems to be most important in depths shallower than
70m, where sediments not actively colonized by
grasses are moved constantly, constricting calcareous
benthos to infaunal and rocky habitats. It is difficult
to determine the depth of wave abrasion as on the
Rottnest Shelf (cf. Collins, 1988) because the sedi-
ments are terrigenous and not lithified carbonates.
Regardless, sediment movement is important to
depths of 140 m, as indicated by physical sedimentary
structures and abraded particles. Although bryozoa
grow throughout, their sharp increase in importance
below a depth of 60 m suggests that - 60 m is a good
approximation of the depth of wave abrasion.
It is the action of swells on the sea floor that appears
to have partitioned the shelf into three major environ-
ments (Fig. 16), which, in a general way, are related
to the shelf morphology: (1) the shallow sheK less than
60 m, a zone of minor carbonate sediment accumula-
tion; (2) the middle shelf, -60 to - 140 m, a zone of
active sediment accumulation in the form of coarse
grained cross-bedded sands; and (3) the deep shelf
edge, - 140 to -250 m, a zone of muddy carbonate
accumulation. Thus, except for rocky submarine
islands of high productivity, significant sediment
accumulation begins below 60m as a region of
carbonate sands, much deeper than is usually envis-
aged for carbonate shelves. Similarly, muddy sedi-
ments are not important until depths of 140m or
more. The critical interface here is not sea level, but
the depth of wave abrasion; significant accretion of
carbonate does not take place until this depth is
exceeded. If carbonate sediment accretion rates are
measured in shallow water they will be orders of
magnitude less than those measured at intermediate
depths.
Cool water sediments, Lacepede SheK southern Australia 899
I
Fig. 16. A summary cross-section of the shelves, illustrating the principal modem sediment facies, depth of swellbase and
probable depth of wave abrasion, and fluctuations in late Quaternary sea level. Note that most of the shelf was not exposed
but covered with shallow seawater throughout much late Quaternary time.
An implication of this concept is that the platforms
are not drowned (cf. Simone & Caranante, 1988).
Sediment accumulation, but not production, is merely
reduced or arrested in shallow water by high energy.
High carbonate productivity is taking place in shallow
water in nearby gulfs and embayments protected from
Ocean swells (Gostin et al., 1988). Environments on
the high energy shelf are very restricted for epifaunal
organisms such as bryozoa. Even those grains that are
produced are quickly abraded or swept landward.
Whilst warm water platforms drown because the
depth of the shelf falls below the critical depth for
carbonate phototrophs, cool water carbonate shelves,
even at depths of several hundred metres, will still be
productive because the organisms I are non-photo-
trophic. On open, high energy, cool water shelves it is
probably shallow water, not deep water, that is
inimical to accretion.
Holocene carbonates
The Holocene cool water carbonates in this region are
produced largely by non-phototrophic organisms,
namely bryozoa, foraminifera and molluscs with
phototrophs such as coralline algae important only in
shallow water (< 70 m). The volumetrically most
important carbonate-producing organisms are bry-
ozoa which live in significant numbers to depths of
250m. These Holocene cool water carbonate sedi-
ments do not show as marked compositional variations
as do warm water carbonates. This is probably why it
has proven so difficult to assign detailed facies to, and
reconstruct water depths for, Cenozoic cool water
limestones in general.
The crux of the problem is that even the shallow
shelf is relatively deep and sediments are produced
largely by the same organisms across the environmen-
tal spectrum. Bryozoa seem to have a broad environ-
mental tolerance and only in deep waters are the
separations into different types clear. Except for
corallines in shallow water, and abundant planktonic
elements in deep water, the differences between
sediment types are subtle. Separation into grainy and
muddy facies is a function of the extraordinarily high
energy setting. The depth of wave base, and hence the
depth of muddy sediments, in other modern and
ancient settings will be a function of the meteorologi-
cal/physical oceanographic state of the region, and
could be much shallower.
Most abundant organism growth is localized to
hard or coarse sediment substrates (cf. Nelson et al.,
1988; Collins, 1988; Scoffin, 1988), highlighting the
importance of antecedent topography and early
lithification in carbonate environments. I t is not yet
900 N. P. J ames et al.
clear whether lithification is widespread but the
presence of intergranular cements and overall high
energy suggests it might be, especially in the zone of
clinoforms between - 70 and - 140 m. Nevertheless,
the abundance of living bryozoa in shifting sand and
muddy substrates indicates that while not as obvious,
these environments are also regions of high sediment
productivity.
Terrigenous clastic sediments
The present outlet of the River Murray can be
classified as a wave-dominated delta (cf. Galloway,
1975) in a region of microtidal range, whose front is
formed by beach barrier shorelines of the Coorong
Strand and whose delta plain is the strandplain of
palaeodune complexes to the north (Fig. 1). The
combination of Pleistocene uplift and arid climate in
the lower reaches of the river system has resulted in a
small sediment load. Meanwhile, the barrier beach
system is as much constructed from offshore-derived
carbonate as river-borne terrigenous sand. It is then,
for all practical purposes, a failed delta in which
what little terrigenous sediment is delivered to the
ocean is plastered against the shoreline and not
transported offshore.
Nevertheless, the extensive relict terrigenous sand
sheets on the shelf attest to the importance of the
River Murray in delivering sediment to this region
over the long term and confirm that during lower
stands of sea level, terrigenous sands were spread
across the now submerged delta plain. Even when sea
level was low the same processes would be operative;
terrigenous clastics would be largely trapped along the
shoreline and only spill over the edge via submarine
canyons. Thus, viewed in dynamic terms, it is a
modern example of reciprocal sedimentation (Meis-
sner, 1972). In this case it is the energetic wave climate
which keeps the terrigenous clastic sediments along
the shoreline during highstands and the extensive
lowstand shelf terrigenous clastics are probably as
much a function of aeolian as fluvial processes (cf.
Mazzulo et al., 1991).
Mixed relict and modem sediments
Relict carbonates, similar in composition to modern
grains, but stained and impregnated with iron oxides,
Mg-calcite cements and/or glauconite, are late Pleis-
tocene in age and related to earlier sealevel highstands.
The reason for the presence of mixed modern and
relict sediments would seem to be a complex function
of mineralogy, wave energy, lack of reef-builders and
shelf depth. The shelf is relatively deep (-40 to
- 60 m) and so, with Pleistocene sea level fluctuations,
has been partially to completely exposed and sub-
merged at intervals of 5-10 ka for the last 125 000
years at least (Fig. 15). Thus, any period of carbonate
deposition was short and followed quickly by exposure,
which was, in turn, of relatively short duration,
allowing for formation of only rudimentary calcrete
and little meteoric cementation before renewed inun-
dation. Furthermore, since the grains were mostly
calcitic, there was little mineralogical contrast to drive
cementation (cf. J ames & Bone, 1989). Lack of reef-
builders kept the shelf margin open and allowed high
energy waves to sweep across the shelf, shifting the
bottom sediments and mixing grains produced during
the previous highstand with newly generated particles.
Lack of such mixing on tropical shelves is because
they are shallow and so have been sites of exposure
and non-deposition since 80 ka, resulting in meteoric
cementation and pedogenic alteration of the aragon-
ite-rich sediments.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The Lacepede Shelf and Bonney Shelf are high energy
settings with the depth of wave abrasion at approxi-
mately -60 m and swell base at about - 140 m.
Sediments on these open shelves are palimpsest, a
mixture of modern carbonate and relict terrigenous
and carbonate particles. They are an integrated
product of late Pleistocene and Holocene carbonate
deposition, diagenesis under variable sea level condi-
tions, terrigenous clastic deposition from the River
Murray during sea level lowstands and Holocene
reworking by waves and swells.
(1) Modern carbonate production, principally by
bryozoa, bivalves and benthic foraminifera (and
coralline algae on the shelf in less than 70 m of water),
is taking place to depths of at least 400 m. Bryozoa
live in abundance to - 350 m and occur conspicuously
to -400m. They can be grouped into four depth-
related assemblages useful in palaeoenvironmental
interpretation : (1) Shelf-robust, Adeona-rich
(< 110 m); (2)shelfedgeaiverse(ll0-200 m); (3)top
of slope-delicate branching (200-250 m); and (4)
upper slope-branching cyclostome (250-400 m +).
(2) Significant modem sediment accumulation is
only taking place in protected gulfs and below depths
of 60m. Sedimentation is arrested on the shallow,
open shelf by high energy waves and swells that
Cool water sediments, Lacepede SheK southern Australia 90 1
continuously move the grains, cause particle abrasion
and disintegration and which transport grains away
from the environments of production. The deep outer
shelf and slope are together an active bryozoa factory
which both produces sediment and probably receives
sediment from the shallower shelf. These deeper zones
are partitioned by swellbase into shallow water, cross-
bedded, bryozoa grainstone facies and deep water,
burrowed, bryozoa bafflestone to floatstone facies.
(3) The interaction of fluctuating Quaternary sea
level, variable carbonate sediment production and
transport of terrigenous clastics onto the shelf has
resulted in four major depositional facies.
Open shelfpalimpsest calcareous and quartzose sands
(40-60 m) . This vast, flat region has been subject to
multiple periods of submergence and exposure over
the last 80000 years. I t is interpreted as presently
being within the zone of wave abrasion. Sediments
are dominated by a major lobe of quartzose sand in
the centre of the Lacepede Shelf which was deposited
during the last sea level lowstand and reworked during
the subsequent transgression and is now continuously
moved by strong waves and populated by scarce
infaunal bivalves. Thislobe is surrounded by quartzose
sediment rich in Holocene and relict carbonate, of
primarily bryozoa, foraminifera and mollusc skeletons
which extends southward along the Bonney Shelf.
Palaeostrandlines form linear ridges throughout,
especially at depths of 60 and 40 m. Bedrock highs are
sites of prolific carbonate production, primarily
coralline algae, which are shed onto the surrounding
sea floor.
Outer shelf (60-140 m). This gently inclined sea
floor is mostly above swellbase and so is of high
energy. It is characterized by seaward-dipping clino-
forms and sand waves, was exposed during the last
major fall in sea level and is today the site of extensive
bryozoa sediment deposition, with little admixed relict
carbonate or terrigenous clastic material (except along
the Bonney Shelf).
Deep shelf edge (140-250 m) . Grainy sediments
pass downward into muddy, poorly sorted, burrowed,
diverse, bryozoa-rich sediments produced largely in
situ; a deep water carbonate factory.
Upper slope (250-350 m). These deep settings are
dominated by muddy, burrowed, cyclostome-rich
sediments.
Slope ( >350 m) . The upper part of this incline is
covered by muddy, mixed bryozoa-rich and pelagic
sediments which grade quickly, with increasing water
depth, into fine grained pelagic muds. The slope is
locally dissected by submarine canyons.
(4) The striking parallel between this region and
the narrower Rottnest Shelf off south-westem Aus-
tralia (Collins, 1988), in terms of general oceano-
graphic setting, facies patterns and depositional
history, points to similar facies models for this swell-
dominated style of cool water shelf. The major
difference seems to be the influence of the River
Murray on the Lacepede Shelf which, by providing a
blanket of terrigenous dastics during lowstands,
altered the nature of the substrate for subsequent
highstand deposition.
(5) There are several major implications, useful for
the interpretation of ancient carbonates. For un-
rimmed platforms, apart from facies disposition, non-
phototrophic, benthic carbonate production can be
significant to a depth of 350 m. Cross-bedded carbon-
ate sands can occur to depths of at least 140 m. The
shallow shelf can be an area of little deposition, in
spite of high potential productivity. If early cementa-
tion does not take place, mixing of shelf sediments
formed during several sequential highstands can take
place because of the high energy conditions.
Such cool water carbonate shelves may be good
modem analogues for many ancient carbonate and
carbonate-siliciclastic deposits. The controls on sedi-
mentary facies are fundamental for the interpretation
of Cenozoic cool water carbonates. For older carbon-
ates the parallel lies not so much in the fact that the
ancient carbonates may have originated in cool water,
but that modem cool water carbonates are good
proxies for periods in geological history when reef-
builders were absent and shelves and platforms were
unrimmed.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This research is funded by the Australiap Research
Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada and Flinders University Research
Budget. We thank CSIRO Division of Oceanography
and the captains and crew of the R.V. Franklin for
enormous support during both cruises. E. Bamett, A.
Belperio, T. Boreen, V. Drapala, K. Gaard, G.
Heinson, M. Fuller, R. Rice and A. White provided
invaluable shipboard help and expertise. E. Bleys
designed and built the sampling dredges. Underwater
cameras were kindly lent by R. Carter and J . Kean.
K. Gowlett-Holmes identified some of the molluscs.
B. Wommersley identified many of the algae. C. Bone
and J. Rolefson-Ah1 aided in sample preparation and
drafting. The manuscript was critically read by A. P.
Belperio and T. Boreen.
902 N. P. James et al.
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Cool water sediments, Lacepede ShelJ southern Australia 903
(Manuscript received 25 February 1992; revision received I1 June 1992)