The southern Cape is a key focus for southern African palaeoenvironmental research as it represents the transitional region between temperate westerlies and sub-tropical rainfall sources. This study presents pollen, plant biomarker, geochemical and charcoal data preserved in the Rietvlei wetland. The bulk of the record spans the last 16 ka, but it also provides rare insights into late Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 (ca. 35-30k cal a BP). The data suggest that during the Pleistocene the development and permanence of this wetland was probably influenced by sea-level change via control on the local water table; notably lower sea levels within MIS 2 resulted in very limited wetland productivity. The MIS 3 section provides evidence both supporting previous suggestions of relatively humid conditions, but also some indication of periodic arid phases. The Holocene record suggests clear contrasts between the early (11-7k cal a BP; relatively humid), mid-Holocene (7-3.3k cal a BP; more arid, less productive wetland conditions) and latest Holocene (last 2k cal a BP; resurgence in both fynbos and aquatic/riparian pollen). While isolating the roles of winter/summer rainfall remains challenging, these data clarify the nature of change during key episodes in the regional palaeoenvironmental record.
- Late Pleistocene
- Multi-proxy record
- South Africa
- Southern Cape palaeoenvironments
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)