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The Holocene evolution and geomorphology of a chain of ponds, southeast Australia: Establishing a physical template for river management

Mould, Simon, Fryirs, Kirstie
Catena 2017 v.149 pp. 349-362
alluvium, ecological function, ecological restoration, environment, floodplains, history, ponds, rivers, streams, Australia
Chains of ponds are a discontinuous river type found in Australia. Their unusual morphology, important ecological functions and increasing rarity make them a priority for conservation, and yet very little research has investigated their physical structure, behaviour and evolution. This paper reconstructs the Holocene evolution and environmental history of Crisp's Creek, a headwater chain of ponds in the Southern Tablelands of NSW Australia. This history establishes baseline information on the physical template that can be used to assess a range of other biophysical processes and design appropriate river rehabilitation and management strategies for these rivers. Sedimentary aggradation began in the Late Holocene, at least 3.7–1.3ka, broadly synchronous with aggradation phases at other sites in southeast Australia. Since European arrival in the Nineteenth Century, parts of the river incised, destroying intact ponds and smothering formerly swampy floodplains with post-incision alluvium. However, sections unaffected by incision provide a rare opportunity to examine the evolutionary trajectory of an intact variant of these rivers. This research deepens our understanding of the evolutionary context for contemporary river behaviour as relevant for designing appropriate and effective conservation and rehabilitation strategies for chains of ponds.