Ancient Kimberley formations

In and around the area of the famous Horizontal waters are some fantastic reminders of just how old this area is and the various geological changes that have happened over millions of years.

On this particular morning, Tom Putt and myself set out to explore this ancient land.

The Kimberley region extends from the dry red sand dunes of the Great Sandy Desert in the south through rugged sandstone escarpments of the Kimberley Plateau and Timor Sea in the north. It extends east to the Northern Territory border.

Covering some 423 500 square kilometres it is nearly twice the size of the State of Victoria and three times the size of England!

Numerous islands off the northern coast and the many gulfs, headlands and the irregularity of the coastline attest to the current historically high sea levels and the so-called โ€œdrownedโ€ topography of the region..

There are more than 2500 mapped islands between Yampi Sound and the mouth of the King Edward River. In a straight line it is approximately 400km from Yampi Sound to the mouth of the King Edward River whereas it is nearly 1300 km around the actual coastline.

On this particular True North Adventure we covered some 1100nm of this ancient land.

The current landscape of the Kimberley has been evolving over a period of at least 250 million years. Periods of uplift resulted in peneplanation of the land surface and deeply incised rivers. The above photo is a very good example of the uplift phenomenon often seen in the Kimberley region.

A lengthy period of tropical conditions 70-50 million years ago resulted in the development of a lateritic cap, particularly over the volcanic rocks which are more susceptible to weathering. This is a characteristic feature of the Mitchell Plateau.

As sea levels rose from approximately 120m below current levels following the end of the last glacial maxima 18 000 years ago, the Kimberley coast line became drowned with the sea filling what were once river valleys. This phenomena gives the coastline its distinctive irregular outline.

To me the Kimberley is like a snapshot into our very existence and a cruise through a sci fi movie like Jurassic park…but the park stretches for over 400,000 square Kilometres!

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10 Responses to Ancient Kimberley formations

  1. Great shot Mark. Makes me want to go and explore!

  2. Thanks Leigh…the shot itself is not enough…the history of the region is what the shot is all about showing off the uplifts and how old the area is is what fascinates me!

    Thanks for dropping by mate!

  3. Tom Putt says:

    Great to see this one Mark.

  4. She certainly is an ancient and rugged land. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Yo Tone…indeed it is mate!

  6. Good image and story buddy. I have sailed in the Amazon rivers, walked in Borneo’s jungle, scaled the sand dunes of Namibia but almost nowhere in the world is the country so prehistoric and pristine as the Kimberley. We really must take care of it and treasure it, quite possibly the oldest soil on our planet.

  7. Thanks little buddy and yes indeed we need to protect this ancient land for sure.

    The way the Federal Government is going on allocating mining leases without consultation with anyone I am not sure how we are going to fair on that front in the longer term!

  8. dave bettini says:

    And don’t forget Mark it’s the Barnett Government who is supporting what might eventually be a massive copper mine adjacent to the Horizontal Waterfall and quite possibly the area where your great shot was taken!

  9. Yes Dave they seem determined to go nuts up there without any sort of consultation with anyone!