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Submerged shorelines and landscape features offshore of Mossel Bay, South Africa

By
Hayley C. Cawthra
Hayley C. Cawthra
Marine Geoscience Unit, Council for Geoscience, PO Box 572, Bellville 7535, South AfricaDepartment of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
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John S. Compton
John S. Compton
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
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Erich C. Fisher
Erich C. Fisher
Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402, USA
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Michael R. MacHutchon
Michael R. MacHutchon
Marine Geoscience Unit, Council for Geoscience, PO Box 572, Bellville 7535, South Africa
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Curtis W. Marean
Curtis W. Marean
Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402, USANelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape 6031, South Africa
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Published:
January 01, 2016

Abstract

Coastal geomorphic systems have been studied widely to understand the responses of shorelines to fluctuating sea levels. Submerged shorelines, remnant of Pleistocene sea-level lowstands, are well preserved on the South African continental shelf. This paper describes work undertaken to better understand offshore coastal environments now submerged by high sea levels off the South African south coast near Mossel Bay, offshore of the Pinnacle Point archaeological locality. Multibeam bathymetry and side-scan sonar reveal evidence of past sea-level fluctuations and submerged coastal landscape features on the seabed. These results form the basis of an ongoing palaeoenvironmental reconstruction for this part of the shelf. We describe seven significant geomorphic features that show a submerged environment that differs significantly to the immediate adjacent coastal plain. However, these features are comparable to other stretches of the present South African shoreline that serve as modern analogues. We propose that features on the continental shelf primarily reflect geological substrate, gradients and Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations. Early modern humans were likely to have had a different set of resources to use in this Pleistocene landscape compared to those available along the presently exposed coast.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Geology and Archaeology: Submerged Landscapes of the Continental Shelf

J. Harff
J. Harff
University of Szczecin, Poland
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G. Bailey
G. Bailey
University of York, UK
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F. Lüth
F. Lüth
German Archaeological Institute, Germany
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Geological Society of London
Volume
411
ISBN electronic:
9781862396999
Publication date:
January 01, 2016

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