, 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


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.


Glacial Periglacial Geodiversity Geoheritage World heritage area 



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.


  1. Angus M (1975) The world of Olegas Truchanas. Olegas Truchanas Publication Committee, HobartGoogle Scholar
  2. Angus M (2008) Pedder. The story. The paintings. Pedder 2000 Inc, Lake Pedder Restoration Committee, Kaoota, TasmaniaGoogle Scholar
  3. Balmer J, Corbett, E (2001) The vegetation of the Lake Pedder area prior to flooding. In: Sharples C (ed) Lake Pedder: values and restoration. Occasional Paper 27, Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, p 67–86Google Scholar
  4. Bayly IAE (1973) The sand fauna of Lake Pedder: a unique example of colonisation by the Phreatoicidea (Crustacea: Isopoda). Aust J Mar Freshwat Res 24(3):303–306. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bayly IAE, Williams WD (1973) Inland waters and their ecology. Longman, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  6. Boulter CA (1978) The structural and metamorphic history of the Wilmot and Frankland Ranges, South-West Tasmania. Ph. D. Thesis, Department of Geology, University of TasmaniaGoogle Scholar
  7. Calver CR, Turner NJ, McClenaghan MP, McClenaghan J (1990) Pedder; Geological survey explanatory report, Sheet 80, Tasmanian Department of Resources and Energy, Hobart, 105ppGoogle Scholar
  8. Carey SW (1960) Tasmania University Seismic Net; Department of Geology, University of TasmaniaGoogle Scholar
  9. Cica N (2011) Pedder dreaming. Olegas Truchanas and a lost Tasmanian wilderness. University of Queensland Press, St LuciaGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark D, Cupper M, Sandiford M, Kiernan K (2011) Style and timing of late Quaternary faulting on the Lake Edgar fault, southwest Tasmania: Implications for hazard assessment in intracratonic areas. In: Audemard M, Michetti AM, McCalpin JP (eds) Geological criteria for evaluating seismicity revisited: forty years of paleoseismic investigations and natural record of past earthquakes: Geological Society of America Special Paper 479 p 109–131.
  11. Colhoun EA (1985) Radiocarbon dates for Tasmania, 1956-1984. Pap Proc R Soc Tasm 119:39–54Google Scholar
  12. Colhoun EA (2002) Periglacial landforms and deposits of Tasmania. S Afr J Sci 98:55–63Google Scholar
  13. Commonwealth of Australia (1974a) The future of Lake Pedder. Interim report of the Lake Pedder Committee of Enquiry. Australian Government Publishing Service, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  14. Commonwealth of Australia (1974b) The flooding of Lake Pedder. Final report of the Lake Pedder Committee of Enquiry. Australian Government Publishing Service, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  15. Commonwealth of Australia (1988) Nomination of the Tasmanian Wilderness by the Government of Australia for inclusion in the World Heritage List; Commonwealth Department of the Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories, and the Government of the State of Tasmania, 45pp. & Appendices 1–5Google Scholar
  16. Commonwealth of Australia (1995) Inquiry into the proposal to drain and restore Lake Pedder; house of representatives standing committee on environment. Recreation and the Arts, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  17. Cupper M, Clark D, Sandiford M, Kiernan K (2004) Geochronology of periglacial deposits in southwest Tasmania. Abstracts, Australasian Quaternary Association Biennial Conference, Cradle Mountain, 6–10 December 2004: 17Google Scholar
  18. Dalrymple RW, Knight RJ, Lambiase JJ (1978) Bedforms and their hydraulic stability relationships in a tidal environment, Bay of Fundy, Canada. Nature 275(5676):100–104. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Davies JL (1959) High level erosuion surfaces and landscape development in Tasmania. Aust Geogr 7:193–203Google Scholar
  20. Davies JL (1967) Tasmanian landforms and Quaternary climates. In: Jennings JN, Mabbutt JA (eds) Landform studies from Australia and new Guinea. ANU Press, Canberra, pp 1–25Google Scholar
  21. Derbyshire E, Banks MR, Davies JL, Jennings JN (1965) A glacial map of Tasmania. Special publication 2, Royal Society of Tasmania, HobartGoogle Scholar
  22. Fish GJ, Yaxley ML (1966) Behind the scenery. Education Department, HobartGoogle Scholar
  23. Hamr P (1992) The Pedder Galaxias. Aust Nat Hist 23:904Google Scholar
  24. Hannan DG, Banks MR, Kiernan K, Pemberton M, Williams E (1993) Physical environment—geology, geomorphology and soils. In: Smith SJ, Banks MR (eds) Tasmanian wilderness—world heritage values. Royal Society of Tasmania, Hobart, pp 16–27Google Scholar
  25. Jennings JN, Banks MR (1958) The Pleistocene glacial history of Tasmania. J Glaciol 3(24):298–303. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Johnson R (1972) Lake Pedder. Why a national park must be saved. Lake Pedder Action Committee & Australian Union of Students, 96ppGoogle Scholar
  27. Kiernan K (1990) The alpine geomorphology of the Mt Anne massif, southwestern Tasmania. Aust Geogr 21(2):113–125. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kiernan K (1996) Conserving geodiversity and geoheritage: the conservation of glacial landforms. Forest Practices Unit, HobartGoogle Scholar
  29. Kiernan K (2001a) The geomorphology and geoconservation significance of Lake Pedder. In: Sharples C (ed) Lake Pedder: values and restoration. Occasional Paper No. 27, Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, p 13–49Google Scholar
  30. Kiernan K (2001b) Restoring Lake Pedder: a geomorphological perspective on recovery prospects and likely time scales. In: Sharples C (ed), Lake Pedder: Values and Restoration. Occasional Paper No. 27, Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, p 153–176Google Scholar
  31. Kiernan K (2005) Glacial geomorphology and geochronology of south-west Tasmania. 6th International Conference on Geomorphology Abstracts volume, Zaragoza, Spain. p 9Google Scholar
  32. Kiernan K (2007) Some practical considerations in the restoration of wilderness geodiversity: insights from Lake Pedder, Tasmania. USDA Forest Service Proceedings, RMRS-P-49: Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress symposium, September–October 2005, Anchorage, Alaska p 519–525Google Scholar
  33. Kiernan K, Fifield LK, Chappell J (2004) Cosmogenic nuclide ages for last glacial maximum moraine at Schnells ridge, Southwest Tasmania. Quat Res 61(03):335–338. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kiernan K, Fink D, Grieg D, Mifud C (2010) Cosmogenic radionuclide chronology of pre-last glacial cycle moraines in the Western Arthur range, Southwest Tasmania. Quat Sci Rev 29(23-24):3286–3297. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kiernan K, Fink D, McMinn M (2014) Topographic and microclimatic impacts on glaciation of the Denison Range, southwest Tasmania. Quat Sci Rev 97(1):136–147. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kiernan K, Fink D, McConnell A (2017) Cosmogenic 10Be and 26Al exposure ages of glaciations in the Frankland Range, southwest Tasmania reveal a limited MIS-2 ice extent. Quat Sci Rev 157:141–151. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McCue K, Boreham B, Van Dissen R, Gibson G, Jensen V, McKavanagh B (1996) A paleo-seismology case study: The Lake Edgar fault scarp in Tasmania; Geoscience for the Community, Abstracts No. 41, 13th Australian Geological Convention, Canberra, Geological Society of Australia, p 283Google Scholar
  38. Moult DR (1973) HEC is “restoring” Lake Pedder. Saturday Evening Mercury, 27 January 1973: 6–7Google Scholar
  39. Peterson JA (1968) Cirque morphology and Pleistocene ice formation conditions in south-eastern Australia. Aust Geogr Stud 6(1):67–83. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Peterson JA (1969) The cirques of Southeastern Australia: studies in morphology and distribution; history and significance. PhD thesis, Monash University, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  41. Richardson RG (1989) Tasmanian seismicity. In: Burrett CF, Martin EL (eds) Geology and mineral resources of Tasmania, Special Publication 15, Geological Society of Australia Inc., p 463–465Google Scholar
  42. Schum SA (1968) River adjustment to altered hydrologic regimen—Murrumbidgee River and Palaeochannels, Australia. US Geological Survey Professional Paper No. 598, 65ppGoogle Scholar
  43. Shirley JE (1980) Tasmanian seismicity—natural and reservoir induced. Bull Seismol Soc Am 70:2203–2220Google Scholar
  44. Sims PC (2012) Lake Pedder—the awakening. Peter C Sims, Quoiba 201 pp. ISBN 0646203215Google Scholar
  45. Southwell L (1983) The mountains of paradise. Les Southwell Pty. Ltd., Camberwell 211 ppGoogle Scholar
  46. Timms BV (1992) Lake geomorphology. Gleneagles Publications, AdelaideGoogle Scholar
  47. Turner NJ, Calver CR, McClenaghan MP, McClenaghan J, Brown AV, Lennox PG, Boulter CA, Godfrey NHH (1985) Pedder; geological atlas, 1:50,000 series, sheet 8112 S (80), Geological Survey of Tasmania, Department of Mines, HobartGoogle Scholar
  48. Tyler PA (1979) Pedder Pennies and other currencies. Tasmanian Tramp 23:87–89Google Scholar
  49. Tyler PA (2001) Lake Pedder—a limnologist’s lifetime view. In: Sharples C (ed) Lake Pedder: Values and Restoration. Occasional Paper No. 27, Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, p 51–60Google Scholar
  50. Tyler PA, Buckney RT (1980) Ferromanganese concretions in Tasmanian lakes. Aust J Mar Freshwat Res 31(4):525–531. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tyler PA, Sherwood JE, Magilton CJ, Hodgson DA (1996) Limnological and geomorphological considerations underlying Pedder 2000 – the campaign to restore Lake Pedder. Archiv. Fyur Hydrobiologie 136:343–361Google Scholar
  52. UNESCO (1989) World Heritage Nomination – IUCN Summary 507: Tasmanian Wilderness (Australia): 16. Accessed 24 March 2017
  53. UNESCO (2014) World Heritage List – Tasmanian Wilderness. Accessed 24 March 2017

Copyright information

© The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Kiernan
    • 1
  1. 1.HobartAustralia

Personalised recommendations