SPLOSH 2020: Southern Hemisphere perspectives

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SPLOSH 2020: Southern Hemisphere perspectives

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Funded by INQUA for 2020 – 2023, the SPLOSH focus group aims to increase awareness of submerged landscapes and environmental changes in the Southern Hemisphere, and help provide a platform for scientific exchange and interdisciplinary collaboration to help strengthen the importance of research in this region. In this first of a series of annual workshops, we focus on Southern Hemisphere perspectives aimed at showcasing and exploring current submerged landscape research in the Southern Hemisphere, identifying common research themes and potential collaborations.


Time (AWST) Speaker and Topic

17.00 – 17.15 Ingrid Ward Introduction to SPLOSH and its aims

I. Towards developing Indigenous perspectives

17.15 – 17.30 Patrick Nunn - Ancient Indigenous observations and memories of land submergence

In many parts of the world, especially around Australia where people have lived for ~70,000 years, there are ancient stories that can be interpreted as deriving from observations of postglacial sea-level rise and the effects this had on land and people. Incorporating Indigenous memories of such events can enrich their science-based understanding. Prolonged land loss resulting from postglacial sea-level rise can be clearly shown to have challenged coastal peoples, evoking both practical and physical responses, thousands of years ago.

II. Submerged landscape research in Australasia

17.30 – 17.45 Brendan Brooke - Submerged shorelines on the Australian continental shelf .

Drowned coastal landforms occur at numerous locations on the Australian continental shelf and at depths ranging from ~20 m to 120 m below present sea level. Given the tectonic stability of the Australian shelf, these features appear to record the more persistent or frequent stands of the sea in the Middle and Late Quaternary. Many of these drowned landforms, which include beach-ridge strandplains, coastal dune fields, estuarine channels and coral reefs, have been mapped using multibeam echosounder (MBES) systems. This talk will present an overview of these features on the Australian shelf and discuss their potential significance as biodiversity hotspots and as sites for targeted archaeological investigation.

17.45 – 18.00 Helen Farr - Submerged landscapes in the Bonaparte Gulf

This paper provides an example of the scope of work now being carried out by the ACROSS project in the Bonaparte Gulf of northern Australia, utilising 2D and 3D seismic data to map sea-level lowstands, in which now submerged landscapes were emergent. This large scale analysis helps us to better understand the palaeolandscape but also raises questions about the implications for indigenous community and the need for community-based approaches to submerged landscape research.

III. Submerged landscape research in Sth America

18.00 – 18.15 Alex Bastos - Paleoshorelines, valleys and lagoons in the eastern Brazilian shelf: Morphology, sedimentary regime shifts and meltwater pulses.

The eastern Brazilian shelf morphology shows evidences of drowned shorelines, valleys and lagoons. Sedimentary records indicate a sedimentation pattern shift from a coastal terrigenous input dominance to a shallow and open marine environment. Major changes occur between 60 and 45m deep, leaving a remarkable submerged landscape. Radiocarbon dates suggest that drowning onset started around 11,500 kyrs BP, probably related to an acceleration of sea-level rise rates, known as MPW1B.

18.15 – 18.30 Break

18.30 – 18.45 Diego Carabias - Where do we go from here? Tapping the potential of submerged paleolandscapes on the Pacific Coast of South America.

Late Pleistocene site GNL Quintero 1 (GNLQ1) (ca. 24-19 kyr), located in Quintero Bay (32°S), Central Chile, provides the first conclusive evidence of a drowned landscape viable for both extinct megafauna and early human occupation and movement along the Pacific coast of South America covered by sea-level rise after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), while demonstrating that this record can survive even on a relatively narrow and steep continental shelf, on an exposed oceanic coast.

IV. Submerged landscape research in Sth Africa

18.45 – 19.00 Hayley Cawthra - The concept of a palaeoscape and how we reconstructed the submerged Palaeo-Agulhas Plain’s geology in southern South Africa

On the South African Cape South Coast seafloor, we recently completed a fully integrated model of an extinct ecosystem. This now mostly submerged 85,000 km2 region off the Cape South coast has had a profound and lasting effect on modern biological and anthropological landscapes. Marine geophysical mapping indicated that the physiographic regime of the Palaeo-Agulhas-Plain comprised ecosystems very different from the modern contemporary coastal lowlands, including vast areas of nutritious grassland and savannah, numerous wetlands, and a soft and highly dynamic coastline. The productivity of the terrestrial ecosystems supported a diverse and abundant plains fauna that included several megaherbivores not known from the region today.

19.00 – 19.15 Andrew Green - The -60 m palaeoshoreline in SE Africa: major landscape shifts since the Younger Dryas

A well-developed and morphologically diverse series of palaeoshorelines at -60 m can be traced for over 1200 km on the SE African shelf. These reflect palaeo-landscapes of the Younger Dryas period, and in many instances, showcase a coastal morphology drastically different to the modern coastlines of the region. These may provide insights into the past climate, the primary controls on coastal development in the region, and the availability of areas suitable for human habitation in the early Holocene.

V. Northern Hemisphere comparisons

19.15 – 19.30 Fraser Sturt (TBC)

19.30 – 20.00 General Discussion

Any questions to or

Please circulate widely! Anyone is welcome to join, no matter where you are (as your time zone allows).

We appreciate the time of this event may not suit everyone and those talks for which we have permission to record will be made available after the event. If you have questions you wish to pose to any of the speakers, please feel free to send them in and we can ask on your behalf.

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