oa Annals of the Natal Museum - Pleistocene shorelines in the Western Cape and South-West Africa

Volume 21, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0304-0798



This paper descriptionbes detailed investigations of the exposed shorelines of the Atlantic coast of southern Africa as far north as R. Olifants and between Walvis Bay and R. Ugab, and summaries of those in the intervening stretch which is controlled by the diamond-companies. It is not possible to travel north of R. Ugab. Most of the coastal plain is blanketed with terrestrial wash and blown sand, which have concealed prac­tically all exposures above 18 m. In the low-level beaches is abundant cold-water fauna of modern species, from which radiocarbon-dates, not very reliable, have been obtained for the sea-levels up to 9 m. Artefacts are very scarce. South of the Berg River there is practically no evidence for higher shorelines, and it is doubtful if they exist. Near R. Olifants is a good terrace at about 30 m occasionally carrying warm-water fauna, to which grades the principal river-terrace with rolled Early-Middle Acheulian artefacts. In this valley there is one higher terrace, and evidence for deep entrenchment after the 30-metre gravel. In the Namaqualand diggings marine terraces at about 23 m, 38 m and 50 m, each with distinctive warm­water fauna, have been identified, and there are higher terraces which are sterile. Artefacts of Acheulian and more primitive types have been found at Kleinzee and Alexander Bay. It has not been possible to survey satisfactorily the terraces of R. Orange. In contrast to the south of R. Orange, in South West Africa there are no pleistocene shorelines either near Orange Mouth or north of Walvis Bay above 30 m. The 'oyster-line' at 25-30 m, marked by abundant Crassostrea margaritacea which is regarded as a warm-water indicator, can be traced along the coast. Cold­water species are found in lower beaches. There are a few artefacts from Orange Mouth, primitive pieces in the higher gravels and hand-axes in a gravel with cliff-base at 5 m; farther north there are no human remains. North of Walvis Bay an intertidal platform may be older than the 28-metre gravel and have been formed during an Early-Middle pleistocene emergence.

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