Location and Description
The coastal plain is a 30 km wide strip on the Indian Ocean coast directly west of the Darling Scarp uplands running from Cape Naturaliste in the south to above the city of Perth. The plain mainly consists of fairly infertile sandy soil along with coastal sand dunes, river estuaries, and a number of wetlands kept back from the sea by the dunes. A number of rivers cross the plain from east to west from the Darling scarp towards the sea including the Swan and its main tributary the Canning.
The sediments of the Perth Basin are Tertiary and Quaternary in age immediately below Perth and include coquina, travertine and sandy limestones with abundant shelly material. Perth is sited on a set of sand dunes formed during the Pliocene-Pleistocene during the last Ice Age. Offshore, the sand dune system and surficial deposits transition into a system of partly eroded limestones and sandy limestones. These form a series of drowned cuestas which today form submerged reefs.
Because of the steepness and orientation of the Darling Scarp, watercourses run off the scarp in a westerly direction. On reaching the Swan Coastal Plain they encounter two obstacles: firstly, the high permeability of the soil results in the loss of much water. Much flow is lost, and some watercourses simply cease to flow; for example, Wungong Brook, Cardup Brook and Manjedal Brook. Secondly, the sequence of north-south-oriented dunes create obstacles to further westerly flow. Many watercourses turn at right angles and flow in a south or north direction along the dune swales, and in some cases this allows multiple watercourses to coalesce. For example, on reaching the coastal plain Ellen Brook runs south for around 30 kilometres, picking up a number of watercourses along the way, before finally emptying into the Swan River. Another example is the Serpentine River, which runs west to less than ten kilometres from the coast, then turns south, running parallel with the coast for nearly 20 kilometres before disgorging into Peel Inlet.
Read more about this topic: Swan Coastal Plain
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