The hydrological setting, occurrence and significance of gypsum in late Quaternary salt lakes in South Australia



    1. Programs in Geosciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, P.O. Box 688, Richardson, Texas 75080, U.S.A.
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      Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, P.O. Box 7909, Austin, Texas 78712, U.S.A.


Well exposed, often laminated gypsum sequences occur in many Quarternary salt lakes in southern South Australia. The gypsum in the salt lakes is classified by increasing grain size into gypsite, gypsarenite and selenite. The salt lakes are classified by age and hydrological setting into coastal salinas which are Holocene sea-water fed groundwater lakes, and continental playas which are late Pleistocene endorheic basins. A study of the relationships between coastal salina hydrology and the associated gypsum deposition has shown the different types of gypsum form under distinct hydrological regimes. As the hydrology above a coastal salina depositional surface changes through time so does the type of gypsum deposited. Application of a gypsum depositional model derived from a study of the coastal salina gypsum to those portions of a continental playa gypsum unit where deposition is no longer occurring confirms the applicability of the model to non-salina gypsum deposits.