Late Quaternary aeolian activity

Within both the winter and summer rainfall zones of Southern Africa are a range of geomorphic features indicative of aeolian activity, many of which are not presently active. Establishing the timing and regional significance of phases of activity will inform debates about the timing and extent of major Late Quaternary rainfall zone shifts, coastline reconfigurations and environments associated with the emergence of modern humans. This work has formed the basis of over 40 printed journal articles with past funding from Leverhulme Trust.

Key outcomes

  • An understanding of sediment 'memory' and dune dynamic responses to climate changes is critical for the extension of palaeoenvironmental records to incorporate multiple phases of aridity within specific regions.
  • That complex environmental responses of dunes to climate can only be understood through the integration of humid-arid palaeorecords using detailed site investigations and lacustrine/marine - aeolian sedimentary interfaces.
  • In the southern Cape coastal area there is the potential to integrate aeolian dynamics into the wider regional climatic and the archaeological record of early modern people.
  • Past sea-level fluctuations and coastal reconfigurations have had a major impact on dune dynamics in the southern Cape coastline of South africa over at least two glacial-interglacial cycles.

Coastal barrier dune


Schematic model of the Mid-Late Quaternary evolution


Recent papers

  • Bateman, M.D., Bryant, R.G., Foster, I.D.L., Livingstone, I., Parsons, A.J. (2012). On the formation of sand ramps: A case study from the Mojave Desert. Geomorphology, 161–162, 93–109.
    [pdf available click here]
  • Bateman, M.D., Carr, A.S., Dunajko, A., Holmes, P.J., Roberts, D.L., McLaren, S.J., Bryant, R.G., Marker, M.E. and Murray-Wallace, C.V. (2011). The evolution of coastal barrier systems: A case study of the Middle-Late Pleistocene Wilderness barriers, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews, 30, 63-81.
  • Cawthra, H.C., Bateman, M.D., Carr, A.S., Compton, J.S. and Holmes, P.J. (2014). Understanding Late Quaternary Change at the Land-Ocean Interface: A Synthesis of the evolution of the Wilderness Coastline, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews, 99, 210-223.
  • Carr, A.S., Bateman, M.D., Roberts, D.L., Murray-Wallace, C.V., Jacobs, Z. and Holmes, P.J. (2010). The last interglacial sea-level high-stand on the southern Cape Coastline of South Africa: Optically Stimulated Luminescence and Amino Acid Racemization chronologies. Quaternary Research 73, 351-363.