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  Murray River Cliffs

may 2007
Last Modified:
may 2007

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Location description

In the south of Australia are the Murray River Cliffs. The Murray is the largest river of Australia. It begins in the Australian Alps and is the border between the states New South Wales and Victoria. The river flows into the 'Southern Ocean'.

The river cuts through a geologic area called the Murray Basin. The marine (sea) sediments in the area have been deposited in the last 50 milion years. The river itself is geologically speaking quite young. The fossils are collected in cliffs at the mouth of the river, and the cliffs along the river itself.

The oldest and lowest layer is the Mannum formation, deposited between 23 and 19 milion years ago in the early Miocene (part of the Neogene period). The sediments have an orange/yellow color and are composed of limey sands and sandy limestones. This formation is very fossiliferous (i.e. sea urchin Lovenia forbesi).

The second formation is the Morgan Limestone from the middle Eocene. The color of the limestone is cream/yellow, lighter than the previous layers. Hard and softer layers alternate. This formation is also very fossiliferous (i.e. sea urchin Monostychia australis).

The third formation are the Loxton Sands from the Pliocene (part of the Neogene period). These consist almost totally of sands. In the sands several bivalve species can be found. During deposition of this formation the sea retreated.

The next formation is an oyster layer, the Northwest Bend formation. The final layer is the Blanchetown Clay, which contains almost no fossils. During deposition of this formation the river Murray began flowing to the sea.

It is Australia, so beware of poisonous snakes! The golden rule is to search the cliffs from the bottom up. This way you never step unexpectedly on a snake.

Photo 1 of 3

The cliffs along the river. Photo: Chris Yee
Added by: admin on 21-03-2012

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The cliffs are located at the southwest coast, south of Adelaide and northwest of Melbourne.

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Mainly sea urchins (Lovenia forbesi, Monostychia australia, Eupatagus murrayensis, Ortholophus morganensis, Ortholophus pulchellus, Willungaster scutellaris, etc, etc), and also bivalves and gastropods.

Literature recommended by members

  • T.A. Darragh, 1988: A Revision of the Tertiary Volutidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of South-Eastern Australia, Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 49(2): 195-307
    Added by webmaster
  • Tony Sadler, N. Pledge and Beryl Morris, -: Fossils of Southern Australia
    ISBN 0 9595010 1 0
    Added by webmaster

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Thanks to Martijn Schalk for sending this description.

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