Stratigraphic imprint of the Late Palaeozoic Ice Age in eastern Australia: a record of alternating glacial and nonglacial climate regime
Stratigraphic and sedimentological data from New South Wales and Queensland, eastern Australia, indicate that the Late Palaeozoic Ice Age comprised at least eight discrete glacial intervals (each 1–8 Ma in duration, here termed ‘glaciations’), separated by nonglacial intervals of comparable duration. These events spanned an interval from mid-Carboniferous (c. 327 Ma) to the early Late Permian (c. 260 Ma), and illustrate a pattern of increasing climatic austerity and increasingly widespread glacial ice from initial onset until an acme in the late Early Permian, followed by an opposite trend towards the final demise of glaciation in the Late Permian. The alternating glacial–nonglacial motif suggests that the Late Palaeozoic Ice Age was considerably more dynamic than previously thought. These patterns are remarkably consistent with recent interpretations of palaeofloral change, eustatic sea-level fluctuations and CO2–climate–glaciation relationships for this interval of time. The detailed record of alternating glacial and nonglacial climate mode disclosed herein may facilitate more closely resolved evaluations of stratigraphic records elsewhere, notably in far-field, ice-distal, northern hemisphere successions.