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The Gulf of Carpentaria
Gulf of Carpentaria
(14°S 139°E / 14°S 139°E / -14; 139Coordinates: 14°S 139°E / 14°S 139°E / -14; 139) is a large, shallow sea enclosed on three sides by northern Australia
Australia
and bounded on the north by the Arafura Sea
Sea
(the body of water that lies between Australia
Australia
and New Guinea). The northern boundary is generally defined as a line from Slade Point, Queensland
Slade Point, Queensland
(the northwestern corner of Cape York Peninsula) in the northeast, to Cape Arnhem, Northern Territory
Northern Territory
(the easternmost point of Arnhem Land) in the west. At its mouth, the Gulf is 590 km wide, and further south, 675 km. The north-south length exceeds 700 km. It covers a water area of about 300,000 km². The general depth is between 55 and 66 metres (30 and 36 fm) and does not exceed 82 metres (45 fm).[1] The tidal range in the Gulf of Carpentaria
Gulf of Carpentaria
is between two and three metres.[2] The Gulf and adjacent Sahul Shelf
Sahul Shelf
were dry land at the peak of the last ice age 18,000 years ago when global sea level was around 120 m below its present position. At that time a large, shallow lake occupied the centre of what is now the Gulf.[3] The Gulf hosts a submerged coral reef province that was only recognised in 2004.[4]

Contents

1 European exploration 2 Geography 3 Coral reefs 4 Major rivers 5 Industry

5.1 Major port plan

6 Physiography 7 References 8 External links

European exploration[edit] The first known European explorer to visit the region was the Dutch Willem Janszoon
Willem Janszoon
(whose name is also written as Jansz) in his 1605–6 voyage. His fellow countryman, Jan Carstenszoon (or Carstensz), visited in 1623 and named the gulf in honour of Pieter de Carpentier, at that time the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Abel Tasman also explored the coast in 1644. The region was later explored and charted by Matthew Flinders
Matthew Flinders
in 1802 and 1803. The first overland expedition to reach the Gulf was the Burke and Wills expedition, led by Robert O'Hara Burke
Robert O'Hara Burke
and William John Wills which left Melbourne, Victoria in August 1860 and reached the mouth of the Bynoe River in February 1861. Geography[edit] The land bordering the Gulf is generally flat and low-lying. To the west is Arnhem Land, the Top End
Top End
of the Northern Territory, and Groote Eylandt, the largest island in the Gulf. To the east is the Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait
Torres Strait
which joins the Gulf to the Coral Sea. The area to the south (like the Cape York Peninsula, part of Queensland) is known as the Gulf Country. The climate is hot and humid with two seasons per year. The dry season lasts from about April until November and is characterized by very dry southeast to east winds, generated by migratory winter high pressure systems to the south. The wet season lasts from December to March. Most of the year's rainfall is compressed into these months, and during this period, many low-lying areas are flooded. The Gulf is prone to tropical cyclones during the period between November and April. The gulf experiences an average of three cyclones each year[2] that are thought to transport sediments in a clockwise direction along the Gulf's coast.[5] In many other parts of Australia, there are dramatic climatic transitions over fairly short distances. The Great Dividing Range, which parallels the entire east and south-east coast, is responsible for the typical pattern of a well-watered coastal strip, a fairly narrow band of mountains, and then a vast, inward-draining plain that receives little rainfall. In the Gulf Country, however, there are no mountains to restrict rainfall to the coastal band and the transition from the profuse tropical growth of the seaside areas to the arid scrubs of central Australia
Australia
is gradual. In September and October the Morning Glory cloud
Morning Glory cloud
appears in the Southern Gulf. The best vantage point to see this phenomenon is in the Burketown area shortly after dawn. It has been hypothesized that the Gulf experienced a major asteroid impact event in 536 A.D.[6] Coral reefs[edit] The Gulf of Carpentaria
Gulf of Carpentaria
is known to contain fringing reefs and isolated coral colonies, but no near-surface patch or barrier reefs exist in the Gulf at the present time.[7] However, this has not always been the case. Expeditions carried out by Geoscience Australia
Australia
in 2003 and in 2005 aboard the RV Southern Surveyor
RV Southern Surveyor
revealed the presence of a submerged coral reef province covering at least 300 km2 in the southern Gulf.[8] The patch reefs have their upper surfaces at a mean water depth of 28.6 ± 0.5 m, were undetected by satellites or aerial photographs, and were only recognised using multibeam swath sonar surveys supplemented with seabed sampling and video. Their existence points to an earlier, late Quaternary phase of framework reef growth under cooler-climate and lower sea level conditions than today.[4] Major rivers[edit] In the Top End
Top End
the Roper River, Walker River and Wilton River flow into the Gulf. The Cox River, Calvert River, Leichhardt River, McArthur River, Flinders River, Norman River and the Gilbert River drain the Gulf Country. A number of rivers flow from the Cape York Peninsula into the Gulf, including Smithburne River, Mitchell River, Alice River, Staaten River, Mission River, Wenlock River
Wenlock River
and Archer River. Industry[edit] Extensive areas of seagrass beds have allowed commercial shrimp operations in the Gulf.[9] Zinc, lead and silver is mined from the McArthur River zinc mine and exported via the Gulf. Another zinc mine, Century Zinc is in the gulf on the Queensland
Queensland
side of the border. It exports its product through the port facility at Karumba. The cattle industry is also a very import part of the regional economy in the gulf. According to the then Chairman of the Gulf of Carpentaria's Commercial Fisherman's Organisation, Gary Ward, the number of sightings of Indonesian vessels fishing illegally in the gulf's waters increased in early 2005.[10] By 2011 the numbers of illegal fishing boat interceptions had declined significantly with the cause attributed to enforcement efforts and education programs in Indonesia.[11] Major port plan[edit] In 2012, a major new port located to the west of Karumba
Karumba
and rail connection to the North West Minerals Province was proposed by Carpentaria Rail. The advantages of a port at Karumba
Karumba
compared to Townsville
Townsville
was that it was three or four days closer to Asia via shipping routes.[12] Physiography[edit] The Gulf is one of the distinct physiographic sections of the larger (and surrounding) Carpentaria Basin province, which in turn is part of the larger East Australian Basins physiographic division. References[edit]

^ http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/websites/pollux/pollux.nss.nima.mil/NAV_PUBS/SD/pub175/175sec01.pdf ^ a b David Hopley; Scott Smithers (2010). "Queensland". In Eric C.F. Bird. Encyclopedia of World's Coastal Landforms. Springer. p. 1255. ISBN 978-1-4020-8638-0.  ^ Torgersen, T., Hutchinson, M.F., Searle, D.E., Nix, H.A., 1983. General bathymetry of the Gulf of Carpentaria
Gulf of Carpentaria
and the Quaternary physiography of Lake Carpentaria. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclimatol., Palaeoecol. 41, 207-225 ^ a b Harris, P.T., Heap, A.D., Marshall, J.F., McCulloch, M.T., 2008. A new coral reef province in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia: colonisation, growth and submergence during the early Holocene. Marine Geology 251, 85-97. ^ Harris, P.T., Heap, A., 2009. Cyclone-induced net sediment transport pathway on the continental shelf of tropical Australia
Australia
inferred from reef talus deposits. Continental Shelf Research 29, 2011-2019. ^ Richard A. Lovett (3 February 2010). Giant Meteorites Slammed Earth Around A.D. 500?. National Geographic News. National Geographic Society. Retrieved 3 March 2013. ^ Veron, J.E.N., 2000. Corals of the World. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville. ^ Harris, P.T., Heap, A.D., Wassenberg, T., Passlow, V., 2004. Submerged coral reefs in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Marine Geology 207, 185-191. ^ Tomascik, Tomas; Anmarie Janice Mah; Anugerah Nontji; Mohammad Kasin Moosa (1997). The Ecology of the Indonesian Seas: Part Two. Periplus Editions. p. 829. ISBN 962-593-163-5. Retrieved 17 November 2011.  ^ Ian Townsend (18 April 2005). "Govt to step up Gulf of Carpentaria patrols". PM (radio program). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 September 2012.  ^ Paul Sutherland (10 November 2011). "Less illegal fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 September 2012.  ^ Nick Dalton (28 June 2013). "Port plan could see hundreds of jobs and build strong export links". The Cairns Post. News Limited. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gulf of Carpentaria.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article about Gulf of Carpentaria.

Morning Glory Cloud video footage and video of the Gulf Region around Burketown Morning Glory Cloud meteorology Aerial Video of Sweers Island
Sweers Island
in the Gulf of Carpentaria Video of Burketown and the Gulf from the air Video of discovery of coral reefs in the Gulf of Carpentaria

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Pacific Ocean

Arafura Sea Banda Sea Bering Sea Bismarck Sea Bohai Sea Bohol Sea Camotes Sea Celebes Sea Ceram Sea Chilean Sea Coral Sea East China Sea Gulf of Alaska Gulf of Anadyr Gulf of California Gulf of Carpentaria Gulf of Fonseca Gulf of Panama Gulf of Thailand Gulf of Tonkin Halmahera Sea Koro Sea Mar de Grau Molucca Sea Moro Gulf Philippine Sea Salish Sea Savu Sea Sea
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Drainage basins of Australia

Gulf of Carpentaria Kimberley (Western Australia) Lake Eyre basin Murray–Darling basin North-east coast drainage division Pilbara
Pilbara
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Australian places named by Dutch navigators and explorers in the 17th century1

Australian continent
Australian continent
/ Australian mainland

Eendrachtsland Nova Hollandia / Nieuw Holland

Queensland

Coen River Staaten River
Staaten River
(Staten Riuier) Gulf of Carpentaria Sweers Island

Northern Territory

Vanderlin Island (Cap Vanderlin) Groote Eylandt Arnhem Land
Arnhem Land
(Arnhems Landt) Crocodile Islands (Cocodrils Eÿlandt) Van Diemen Gulf
Van Diemen Gulf
(Baÿa van-Diemen) Wessel Islands

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Cape Leeuwin Dirk Hartog Island Nuyts Land District Houtman Abrolhos2 Pelsaert Group Pelsaert Island Rottnest Island
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St Francis Island
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St Peter Island
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Van Diemen's Land
Van Diemen's Land
/ Anthoonij van Diemenslandt (mainland Tasmania) De Witt Island Maatsuyker Island
Maatsuyker Island
(Maetsuickers eylan) Pedra Branca2 Storm Bay Maria Island
Maria Island
(Marias Eylandt) Schouten Island
Schouten Island
(Schoute Eylandt)

Notes: 1with the name still in use in either original or Anglicised version 2Named by the Dutch, but a Portuguese name Many names have been Anglicised; for these the original Dutch name a

.