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Coastal geoheritage: A hierarchical approach to classifying coastal types as a basis for identifying geodiversity and sites of significance in Western Australia

Brocx, M. and Semeniuk, V. (2010) Coastal geoheritage: A hierarchical approach to classifying coastal types as a basis for identifying geodiversity and sites of significance in Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, 93 (2). pp. 81-113.

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    Abstract

    Identifying sites of coastal geoheritage significance begins with classification of coastal geology and geomorphology. However, classifying coasts for purposes of geoheritage is made difficult due to the complexity, intergradation, and different scales at which coastal features are expressed, with variation potentially present locally or regionally. Also, geoheritage must address geological content as well as coastal geomorphology expressed erosionally and/or sedimentologically, and Earth history as manifested in coastal erosional and stratigraphic products. While geological and environmental settings play important roles in determining regional variation in coastal form and coastal products, or expression of geological content, coasts at the local scale commonly are expressions of one or more of the main processes of (marine) inundation, erosion, and deposition, and/or of subdominant processes of biogenic activity and diagenesis. To address this coastal geodiversity for geoheritage and geoconservation in Western Australia, a three-level scalar hierarchical approach is used. Level 1 identifies the regional geological and environmental setting, i.e., recognising major cratons and basins, and the climatic/oceanographic setting of a coast, which determine regional coastal forms. Level 2 identifies the main coastal types developed by coastforming processes (e.g., marine inundation of pre-existing landforms; coastal erosion; exhuming of older landforms; construction by Holocene sedimentation, coasts formed biogenically, amongst others), as well as coastal types that illustrate Holocene history geomorphically or stratigraphically, or manifest pre-Holocene rock sequences in sea cliffs. Level 3 identifies finer-scale characteristics particular to any coast within its regional setting to develop an inventory of features providing data within the context of the coastal types for comparative geoconservation purposes. All three levels need to be applied to fully categorise coasts for assessing geoheritage values and for geoconservation.

    Publication Type: Journal Article
    Publisher: Royal Society of Western Australia
    Copyright: © 2010 Royal Society of Western Australia.
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/4030
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