Butzer ‘Down Under’ : Debates on anthropogenic erosion in early Colonial Australia

Journal article


Cook, Duncan. (2019). Butzer ‘Down Under’ : Debates on anthropogenic erosion in early Colonial Australia. Geomorphology. 331, pp. 160-174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.12.011
AuthorsCook, Duncan
Abstract

The arrival of Europeans in the New World, and the rapid deforestation for agriculture and settlement that shortly followed, resulted in large and rapid increases in soil erosion and sediment aggradation. In Australia, as in parts of North America and other New World sites, this event dates to the last several centuries of the Common Era, a period for which we have surprisingly little historical or scientific data capable of informing debates on the impact of European colonisation on soils and erosion. These research themes and debates were central to the work of Karl Butzer, who undertook field and archival research in Australia to test existing ideas of the timing and magnitude of landscape response to colonisation. In this paper, the work and impact of Butzer in Australia is reviewed as part of ongoing scholarship on the impact of colonisation on landscapes to which Butzer contributed (Butzer and Helgren, 2005). Geomorphic records of soil erosion and historical accounts of land use and impact from eastern Australia show that European settlement, land clearing, and agriculture resulted in rapid, and often severe, increases in erosion in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, mirroring the experience of anthropogenic soil loss experienced in other parts of the world. It is postulated that the geomorphic response to European settlement in Australia is more complex than researchers have previously noted that, in some contexts, continues to influence catchment processes decades and centuries after colonisation.

Keywordssoil erosion; australia; European colonisation; Late Holocene; aggradation; catchment sediment yield
Year2019
JournalGeomorphology
Journal citation331, pp. 160-174
PublisherElsevier BV
ISSN0169-555X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.12.011
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85060517674
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range160-174
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online21 Dec 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted16 Dec 2018
Deposited13 Jan 2022
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