Nickpoint recession in karst terrains: an example from the Buchan Karst, Southeastern Australia

Fabel, D. , Henricksen, D., Finlayson, B. L. and Webb, J. A. (1996) Nickpoint recession in karst terrains: an example from the Buchan Karst, Southeastern Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 21(5), pp. 453-466. (doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-9837(199605)21:5<453::AID-ESP608>3.0.CO;2-4)

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Abstract

Nickpoint recession in the Buchan karst, southeastern Australia, has resulted in the formation of an underground meander cut-off system in the Murrindal River valley. Three nickpoints have been stranded in the surface channel abandoned by the subterranean piracy, and these can be correlated with river terraces and epiphreatic cave passages in the nearby Buchan River valley. The presence of palaeomagnetically reversed sediments in the youngest cave passage in the Buchan valley implies that the topographically lowest nickpoint in the Murrindal valley is more than 730 ka old, and the other nickpoints are probably several million years old. The nickpoints are occasionally active during floods, but the diversion of most surface flow underground has slowed down their retreat to the extent that they have been effectively stationary for several million years.

Underground nickpoint migration has been by both incision within major phreatic conduits and their abandonment for lower-level passages. The nickpoints are all present in the upstream part of the cave system, but have not migrated past the sink in the river channel, despite the long period of time available for this to happen. The sink is characterized by collapsed limestone blocks; these filter out the coarse bedload from the river channel. As a result, erosion within the cave passages is dominantly solutional and therefore slower than in the surface channel, where it is mostly mechanical. In addition, to transmit a drop in base level the cave system requires the removal of a larger volume of rock than for the surface migration of a nickpoint, because any roof collapse material in the subsurface system must be removed. These factors have slowed the migration of the base-level changes through the subsurface system, and may be a general feature in caves that have diffuse sinks as their main inputs.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fabel, Dr Derek
Authors: Fabel, D., Henricksen, D., Finlayson, B. L., and Webb, J. A.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Publisher:John Wiley and Sons
ISSN:0197-9337
ISSN (Online):1096-9837

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