Tag Archives: Australian Research Council

Anticipated coring joy…

Having well and truly broken the first rule of blogging (blog regularly), this is my 2nd post…

Late last year my colleagues (listed below) and I were awarded an Australian Research Council grant to examine long records of environmental change from North Stradbroke Island (or “Straddie”) in south-east Queensland. We have identified some wetlands on the island which are VERY old by Australian standards (~100,000 years old). Using sediment records of stable isotopes, pollen, charcoal and other indicators we will develop, firstly, a long high resolution climate record. This can then be compared and contrasted to the pollen record (which also contains fungi found in the dung of now extinct giant animals: the megafauna) to see how much the vegetation changed as a result of megafaunal extinction, climate and the arrival of people.

To do this we are going to use optically stimulated luminescence to date sand grains in the sediments. Since Straddie is the 2nd largest (and finest) sand island in the world, there is sand in the cores, though not as much might be expected.

So…Cameron Barr and I are having a new corer built which takes wide diameter cores. This is very exciting since it is not everyday you get to commission a bespoke piece of equipment from the people who manufactured Adelaide’s “Mall’s Balls“. The corer will be ready in about 4 weeks just in time for Cameron and I to take it to Straddie and try it out.

Fingers crossed it works! Then it will be the job of Honours student Richard Lewis to painstakingly extract more than 1,000 sand grains per sample and individually load them into small pitted trays to be analysed.

To find out more about this work, our earlier Straddie papers include:

Barr, C.S., Tibby, J., Marshall, J.C., McGregor, G.B., Moss, P.T., Halverson, G.P. & Fluin, J. (2013) Combining monitoring, models and palaeolimnology to assess ecosystem response to environmental change at monthly to millennial timescales: the stability of Blue Lake, North Stradbroke Island, Australia. Freshwater Biology 58(8): 1614-1680.

Moss, P., Tibby, J., Petherick, L.M., McGowan, H.A. and Barr, C. (2013). Late Quaternary Vegetation History of North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, eastern Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 74: 257-272.


The team who got the ARC grant was myself, Patrick Moss (University of Queensland: pollen), Melanie Leng (University of Nottingham: isotopes), Jeremy Shakun (Boston University: data assimilation and comparison with climate drivers) and Nigel Spooner (Adelaide: OSL dating).

The application itself was mostly the work of Cameron Barr and I.  Cameron is the post-doc employed on the project but under the ARC rules can’t be listed as an investigator.  Other key participants are our colleagues from Queensland Government Dr John Marshall and Dr Glenn McGregor and Cesca McInerney, Lee Arnold and Jon Tyler from Adelaide.