Depositional setting and dating

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Naracoorte Caves is open. There are restrictions on the number of people that can undertake tours at any one time. Some cave tours can now be booked online, or you can visit and enjoy a tour by booking directly at the Wonambi Visitor Centre.
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Chronological and sedimentary studies provide a foundation for palaeoecology. They help us to understand the accumulation and depositional settings of the caves.

Underpinning palaeoecological studies conducted at the Naracoorte Caves is research into the age and depositional setting of the deposits.

Studies of cave sediments and the stratigraphic profiles across a number of caves have elucidated patterns of sediment transport across the region and the local factors contributing to the unique profiles within the caves.

Dating methods have also been refined using materials collected from the Naracoorte Caves, including quartz dating and Uranium-series/ESR dating. Further advances in these and other dating methods present an opportunity for refining and/or elucidating the age of un-dated deposits and those with complex accumulation histories.

Further reading

  • Ayliffe, L. and Veeh, H.H. 1988. Uranium-series dating of speleothems and bones from Victoria Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia. Chemical Geology (Isotope Geoscience Section) 72, 211–234.
  • Darrénougué, N., De Deckker, P., Fitzsimmons, K.E., Norman, M.D., Reed, L., van der Kaars, S. and Fallon, S. 2009. A late Pleistocene record of aeolian sedimentation in Blanche Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 28, 2600–2615.
  • Forbes, M.S. and Bestland, E.A. 2006. Guano-derived deposits within the sandy cave fills of Naracoorte, South Australia. Alcheringa Special Issue 1, 129–146.
  • Forbes, M.S. and Bestland, E.A. 2007. Origin of the sedimentary deposits of the Naracoorte Caves, South Australia. Geomorphology 86, 369–392.
  • Forbes, M.S., Bestland, E.A., Wells, R.T. and Krull, E.S. 2007. Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene Robertson Cave sedimentary deposit, Naracoorte, South Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 54, 541–559.
  • Grün, R. 2000. An alternative for model for open system U-series/ESR age calculations: (closed system U-series)-ESR, CSUS-ESR. Ancient TL 18, 1–4.
  • Grün, R., Moriarty, K. and Wells, R. 2001. Electron spin resonance dating of the fossil deposits in the Naracoorte Caves, South Australia. Journal of Quaternary Science 16, 49–59.
  • Macken, A.C., Jankowski, N.R., Price, G.P., Bestland, E.A., Reed, E.H., Prideaux, G.P. and Roberts, R.G. 2011. Application of sedimentary and chronological analyses to refine the depositional context of a Late Pleistocene vertebrate deposit, Naracoorte, South Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 2690–2702.
  • Macken, A.C., McDowell, M.C., Bartholomeusz, D.H. and Reed, E.H. 2013a. Chronology and stratigraphy of the Wet Cave vertebrate fossil deposit, Naracoorte, and relationship to palaeoclimatic conditions of the Last Glacial Cycle in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 60, 271–281.
  • Macken, A.C., Staff, R.A. and Reed, E.H. 2013b. Bayesian age-depth modelling of Late Quaternary deposits from Wet and Blanche caves, Naracoorte, South Australia: a framework for comparative faunal analyses. Quaternary Geochronology 17, 26–43.
  • Moriarty, K.C., Wells, R.T., Alyiffe, L.K, Grun, R. and Roberts, RG 1999. Three decades of dating of Victoria Cave fossil chamber, Naracoorte: pitfalls in dating a pitfall. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 57, 412–413.
  • Pate, F.D., McDowell, M.C., Wells, R.T. and Smith, A.M. 2002. Last recorded evidence for megafauna at Wet Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia 45,000 years ago. Australian Archaeology 54, 53–55.
  • Pate, F.D., McDowell, M.C., Wells, R.T. and Smith, A.M. 2006. Additional AMS radiocarbon dates for Wet Cave and the timing of megafaunal extinctions in the Naracoorte region of South Australia. Alcheringa Special Issue 1, 277–279.
  • St Pierre, E., Zhao, J. and Reed, E. 2009. Expanding the utility of Uranium-series dating of speleothems for archaeological and palaeontological applications. Journal of Archaeological Science 36, 1416–1423.
  • St Pierre, E., Zhao, J. Feng, Y. and Reed, E. 2012. U-series dating of soda straw stalactites from excavated deposits: method development and application to Blanche Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science 39, 922–930.
  • Yoshida, H., Roberts, R.G., Olley, J.M., Laslett, G.M. and Galbraith, R.F. 2000. Extending the age range of optical dating using single 'supergrains' of quartz. Radiation Measurements 32, 439–446.