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Unlike the Canadian Shield, however, the Western Australian craton has been subjected to weathering processes for some 250 million years.The gently undulating, weathered plateau of the Yilgarn block lies between 1,000 and 2,000 feet (300 and 600 metres) above sea level.Most of the state is subarid, and the combination of low rainfall and high temperatures restricts most of the population and agricultural activities to the so-called comfortable zone southwest of an imaginary line stretching from north of Geraldton on the state’s western coast to Esperance on its southern coast.The overwhelming majority of the population lives in the greater Perth area, which is one of the largest metropolitan regions in Australia. Kimberley region in the far north is a multisectioned plateau.These same processes, operating on similar scales, also determine whether or not artefact scatters are preserved in the contemporary landscape or in the sedimentary record of past landscapes, and hence whether or not they become part of the archaeological record.Models of settlement behavior in hunter–gatherer peoples that are largely derived from analysis of surface ‘sites’ must take account of these discontinuities.The Fitzroy and Ord rivers delineate the southern and eastern border of the Kimberley. Although the main period of dune formation ended about 10,000 years ago, the dune crests are still active (shifting).The Great Sandy Desert stretches southward into the state’s central interior, where it merges imperceptibly with the Gibson Desert, which in turn gives way to the Great Victoria Desert, again to the south.
The limestone King Leopold Ranges rise from the southern part of the region.
Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating of sediments upon which the artefacts currently rest demonstrates that the landscape, and the archaeological record it preserves, is spatially and temporally discontinuous.
Exposure and/or burial of artefacts is controlled by geomorphic processes operating on timescales ranging from a few decades to thousands of years and spatial scales of tens to many thousands of square meters.
Alkali and alkaline earth elements are depleted in a systematic fashion, according to size, when compared with an estimate of Archean upper crust abundances.
This depletion is less notable in the Whim Creek Group.