Clay mineral assemblages for the last 10 Ma off northeastern Australia

Clay mineral assemblages for the last 10 m.y. are described for Site 823, at 16°S in the Queensland Trough, to the northeast of Australia. Largely unaffected by diagenetic influences, these mostly express the evolution of northeastern Australian continental environments during the late Neogene: (1) beginning during the late Miocene at about 7.0 Ma is an increase of illite derived from rocky substrates at the expense of smectite from deeply weathered soils; this increase was the result of increasing aridity in the Australian interior and globally cooler temperatures, associated with increases in Antarctic glaciation; (2) concomitant and further increases of kaolinite fluxes to the Queensland Trough during the late Miocene-early Pliocene largely reflect an increase in rainfall in northeastern Australia; (3) increases in both soil- and rock-derived minerals probably intensified as a result of late Neogene uplift of the eastern highlands; (4) clay-mineral associations during the Pliocene and Pleistocene display minor variations only and probably resulted in part from differential settling and sea-level changes; (5) similar trends of clay-mineral variations occur at both ODP Site 823 and DSDP Site 588 (Lord Howe Rise). Less abundant kaolinite relative to illite at Site 588 nevertheless suggests a southward decrease of continental humidity and/or of the eastern highlands uplift; (6) influences of global climate and oceanic and atmospheric circulations on clay-mineral associations dominated during the late Miocene and were progressively replaced by influences of more regional environmental variations during the Pliocene and especially the Pleistocene.

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