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Australia and the South Pacific Notes

Australia and the South Pacific Notes - Australia and the...

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Australia and the South Pacific Environment - low population - isolation from rest of world o has resulted in distinctive ecosystem and challenges to the development of trade Australia - large land mass, forms a continental shield - Eastern highlands are remnants of an old folded mountain range w. a steep escarpment, created when New Zealand broke away from Aus. - The highland crest is known as the Great Dividing Range - The Highland areas are important to water resources and agriculture - East coast is distinguished by the world’s largest coral reef the Great Barrier Reef - consists of numerous fringing coral reefs - high diversity of fish and mollusk species - reefs were formed over millions of years from the skeletons of marine coral organisms in the warm tropical waters of the Coral Sea - today, reef is under pressure from trawling in the lagoon, chemical and sediment pollution, climate change, and coastal development - overgrazing, landclearing, increased pop.’s of algae, fertilizers and pesticides are all threats to the reef - Lake Eyre basin is located in the interior, very salty water due to high levels of evaporation in the hot, dry climate - Great Artesian Basin is also in the interior lowlands. Under it is the world’s largest ground water aquifier b/ c there is a reservoir of ground water in porous rocks - Western plateau has a shield of old rocks, few low mountains, and large areas of flatter desert plains and plateaus - Western region is rich in mineral deposits and is the basis of the Aussie mining industry New Zealand - much younger and more tectonically active South Island - rugged mountains - more than 300 glaciers, extensive permanent snow fields North Island - much more volcanic activity - recently have ejected ash over large areas and caused damage to agriculture and property - volcanically heated water from hot springs etc. is used as an energy source - has a warmer climate and rich volcanic and river deposited soils nourish a productive agriculture Pacific Islands High Volcanic Islands - are mostly volcanic in origin, rise steeply from the sea - many are created in linear chains as tectonic plates move over hotspots where molten rock reaches the surface. Example: Hawaii and Samoa - others form island arcs along the edge of tectonic plates - the heights of the islands promote heavy rainfall and are often capped by clouds Low Islands (mostly coral islands or are atolls) - coral islands are formed from the build up of skeletons or coral organisms that grow in shallow tropical waters - Atolls are usually circular with a series of coral reefs or small islands ringing and sheltering and interior lagoon
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