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Title: First evidence for onshore Marine Isotope Stage 3 aeolianite formation on the southern Cape coastline of South Africa
Authors: Carr, Andrew S.
Bateman, Mark D.
Cawthra, Hayley C.
Sealy, Judith
First Published: 11-Oct-2018
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Marine Geology, 2018
Abstract: The southern Cape coast of South Africa boasts an impressive suite of Plio-Pleistocene aeolian dune deposits (aeolianite). Previous research has shown that in this region onshore dune accumulation was generally focused around interglacial sea level highstands, with the locus of coastal dune accumulation shifting onto the adjacent continental shelf during glacial sea level lowstands. Here, using new luminescence dating results, we present the first evidence for preserved onshore glacial age dunes. Specifically, on the Robberg Peninsula, a rocky headland 28 km east of Knysna, two phases of aeolianite formation are identified, corresponding to early (45–60 ka) and late (35–30 ka) marine isotope stage (MIS) 3. Subsequently, during the Holocene, all substantive dune accumulation occurred between 10.2 and 7.0 ka, forming cliff-fronting dunes and filling the limited accommodation space on the headland, including an archaeological rock-shelter. Combining these ages with bathymetric data, we infer that this distinct onshore glacial age aeolianite record reflects: 1) restricted accommodation space during sea level highstands; 2) a regional narrowing of the continental shelf, and 3) liberation of sediments lying on a prominent −45 to −60 m offshore terrace, which would have been exposed during MIS 3. This demonstrates that despite broad regional-scale trends in the timing of coastal aeolian activity - driven by commonalities in relative sea level trends and climate - distinct local variations in late Quaternary coastal evolution can be identified. This is ascribed to local controls on preservation (accommodation space) and sediment supply (shoreline position and antecedent offshore sediment supplies). Such findings may have wider implications for interpretations of site context/resource availability at several notable coastal archaeological sites, and more broadly suggest that local offshore or onshore geologic contexts can at times assume greater influence on a preserved coastal aeolianite record than the regional-scale trends in sea level and climate.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.margeo.2018.10.003
ISSN: 0025-3227
Embargo on file until: 11-Oct-2019
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © Elsevier 2018. After an embargo period this version of the paper will be an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License (, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Description: The file associated with this record is under embargo until 12 months after publication, in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The full text may be available through the publisher links provided above.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geology

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