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Geoheritage

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 271–289 | Cite as

The Original Lake Pedder, southwest Tasmania: Origin, Age and Evolution of an Australian Nature Conservation Icon

  • Kevin Kiernan
Original Article

Abstract

The highly scenic natural Lake Pedder in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is commonly interpreted as having been impounded behind a natural barrage of glacio-fluvial sediment shed from the adjacent Frankland Range during the Last Glaciation (LGM). However, recent mapping and dating of moraines on the range flanks indicates that only very small glaciers existed there during the LGM and that they generated insufficient sediment for associated glacio-fluvial fan construction at that time to account for formation of the lake. The glaciers that deposited earlier moraines and glacio-fluvial fans that are potentially as old as Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 12 also seem insufficient to have produced sufficient sediment. The inundation of Lake Pedder beneath an artificial reservoir following dam construction in the early 1970s currently precludes direct investigation of the valley floor, but new fieldwork around the reservoir perimeter coupled with analysis of historical sources has also failed to reveal evidence supportive of alternative tectonic, colluvial, fluvial or aeolian processes having produced the lake. On the other hand, erosional evidence suggests earlier much more extensive glaciation well beyond the moraines that remain extant, and that the slightly elevated terrain behind which the Lake Pedder was impounded is indeed likely to contain glacigenic sediments, albeit of very much greater antiquity than previously envisaged. Pronounced eastward migration of Lake Pedder through natural lakeshore erosion by wind-generated waves, and the richness of the biota in the natural lake, are both readily explicable given the extended time frame now available. This new understanding compounds the very considerable natural heritage significance of the original Lake Pedder and adds a further geoheritage dimension to the ongoing campaign for its restoration.

Keywords

Glacial Periglacial Geodiversity Geoheritage World heritage area 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Anne McConnell for assistance with some of the fieldwork. The radiocarbon dating was supported by AINSIE grant no. 09/11 and I am grateful to Andrew Smith of ANSTO for performing the analyses.

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Copyright information

© The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Kiernan
    • 1
  1. 1.HobartAustralia

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