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Hayley C Cawthra

Hayley C Cawthra
Council for Geoscience Western Cape office; Nelson Mandela University · Geophysics and Remote Sensing Unit (CGS); African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience (NMU)

PhD

About

109
Publications
38,618
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Introduction
I am a Senior Scientist in the Geophysics and Remote Sensing Unit of the Council for Geoscience, and a Research Associate at the Nelson Mandela University in the African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience. I hold a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Cape Town and have research interests in marine geophysics, Quaternary sea-level change, human use of ancient coastlines, and emergence of palaeoenvironments through changing climate regimes on continental shelves.
Additional affiliations
April 2016 - present
Nelson Mandela University
Position
  • Research Associate
Description
  • Conduct research and supervise postgraduate students.
January 2007 - present
Council for Geoscience
Position
  • Principal Investigator
Description
  • I lead the marine geoscience programme and conduct research.
Education
February 2011 - June 2014
University of Cape Town
Field of study
  • Marine Geology
January 2008 - October 2010
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Field of study
  • Geological Science
January 2006 - December 2006
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Field of study
  • Geological Science

Publications

Publications (109)
Article
Helm, C.W.; Carr, A.S.; Cawthra, H.C.; De Vynck, J.C.; Dixon, M.; Stear, W.; Stuart, C.; Stuart, M., and Venter, J.A., 2022. Possible Pleistocene pinniped ichnofossils on South Africa's Cape south coast. Journal of Coastal Research, 38(4), 735749. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208. Exposed surfaces of cemented foreshore deposits and aeolianit...
Article
Contemporary microbialite formation has been documented on rock coasts in a variety of geomorphic, oceanographic, and climatic settings. Based on a synthesis of these diverse occurrences plus new observations, a generalized model is presented. At each locality microbialite development is associated with discharge of mineralized freshwater in the co...
Article
Full-text available
The potential of submerged palaeolandscapes to address questions about global migrations, broad-scale climate and landscape change and human response to this has, to date, been concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere has less land, more water and water barriers, higher floral and faunal endemicity and lower population but w...
Article
Full-text available
The online symposium Shared Visions for Marine Spatial Planning: Insights from Israel, South Africa and the United Kingdom was held from 9–10 March 2021. Insights from this multi-disciplinary and international symposium included 1) current states of marine spatial planning (MSP) in the three countries, 2) how MSP can be a helpful tool to advance ma...
Article
A trackway and burrows of a small rodent-sized bounding mammal (attributed to the Cape gerbil, Gerbilliscus afra ) and a traceway of a large arachnid (spider) from the Pleistocene Waenhuiskrans Formation represent two biological groups not previously reported from this track-rich dune facies, which is widely distributed along the Cape south coast o...
Article
Here we present an optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) age estimate of 64 ± 5 ka for an offshore aeolianite and draw regional correlations (within 45 km) between the Pleistocene geological sequence offshore of the Durban Bluff, and contemporary palaeoenvironmental records from Sibudu on the South African sub-tropical east coast. Considering thi...
Article
Coastal erosion may cause significant damage to property and infrastructure with far reaching socio-economic consequences. Assessing the site-specific shoreline dynamics is fundamental to understand the morphodynamic behaviour of a particular coastal area, as well as the associated coastal hazards. However, changes in shoreline position, even when...
Article
Full-text available
Two probable tracks have been identified on the ceiling of a small overhang in the Pleistocene Langebaan Formation on South Africa’s west coast. They may have been made by a hominin trackmaker. They appear to have been registered at walking speed on a level, sandy dune substrate. Three tracks, attributed to Homo sapiens, were previously identified...
Article
High-resolution mapping, sampling and analysis of upper Quaternary southern African continental margin sediments recovered from beyond the Last Glacial Maximum shoreline (>130 m water depth) have expanded our understanding of how marine and terrestrial records are linked over glacial-interglacial climatic cycles. This paper synthesises data current...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we highlight the impact of sea-level change on the archaeological record of key developments in human history that took place during the late Pleistocene and the early Holocene. Before modern sea level became established from ∼7 ka onwards, most palaeoshorelines and large areas of coastal hinterland were exposed as habitable land and...
Article
A method to map bio-physical benthic habitats on the continental shelf of South Africa has been developed and is being refined. The goal is to produce a benthic habitat classification method that bridges the disciplines of marine geophysics and biological science, with relevance to all elements of the local substrate, using modern methods. Here, we...
Article
Beachrocks are relatively common along the intertropical zone of the Brazilian coastline. These deposits have the potential to yield important information about the character of paleo-beaches, implications for paleo sea-level, and paleoenvironmental change related to their genesis. In this manuscript, we present new data on the genesis and age of b...
Article
We have developed an algorithm to map benthic habitats on the continental shelf of South Africa, integrating marine geophysics and biological science. Multibeam bathymetry, backscatter and Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) footage were collected on the inner continental shelf of Cape St Francis and the hydroacoustic data were processed using machine...
Article
Full-text available
Aeolianites and cemented foreshore deposits on South Africa's Cape south coast have the capacity to record and preserve events that transpired on them when they were composed of unconsolidated sand. Thirty-five Pleistocene elephant tracksites have been identified along this coastline. This abundance of sites along what was the margin of the vast Pa...
Article
Mpondoland on the South African east coast is a particularly dynamic region in terms of climate change as it is influenced by both temperate and tropical circulation and climate systems. We present a sediment record that indicates regional climatic change and anthropogenic influence during the last ~5500 yr. Catchment data allow an understanding of...
Article
Full-text available
Pleistocene aeolianite surfaces on the South African coastline, which occur in national parks, other protected areas, as well as unprotected areas, are of profound scientific, cultural, palaeoenvironmental and heritage importance. A threat is posed to these surfaces by the increasing presence of graffiti, which may deface or destroy fossil tracksit...
Article
More than 250 Pleistocene vertebrate trace fossil sites have been identified on the Cape south coast of South Africa in aeolianites and cemented foreshore deposits. These discoveries, representing the epifaunal tracks of animals that moved over these sand substrates, complement traditional body fossil studies, and contribute to palaeo-environmental...
Article
Waterfall Bluff, in Eastern Mpondoland (Eastern Cape Province, South Africa), is a recently excavated archaeological site with deposits spanning Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 to the Middle Holocene. Here, we present preliminary results of a multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental study combining macro-botanical remains, charcoal, phytoliths, pollen and plan...
Article
Helm, C.W.; Cawthra, H.C.; De Vynck, J.C.; Dixon, M., and Stear, W., 2021. Elephant tracks: A biogenic cause of potholes in Pleistocene South African coastal rocks. Journal of Coastal Research, 37(1), 59–74. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.The Cape south coast of South Africa contains extensive outcrops of Pleistocene aeolianite and cemente...
Article
Full-text available
Three new Pleistocene hominin tracksites have been identified on the Cape south coast of South Africa, one in the Garden Route National Park and two in the Goukamma Nature Reserve, probably dating to Marine Isotope Stage 5. As a result, southern Africa now boasts six hominin tracksites, which are collectively the oldest sites in the world that are...
Article
Microbial mats were the dominant habitat type in shallow marine environments between the Palaeoarchean and Phanerozoic. Many of these (termed ‘microbialites’) calcified as they grew but such lithified mats are rare along modern coasts for reasons such as unsuitable water chemistry, destructive metazoan influences and competition with other reef-bui...
Article
Prior to the inception of the Cape south-coast ichnology project, only one avian tracksite had been reported from South Africa. An additonal twenty-nine sites have now been identified. Although there are limitations and challenges inherent in the study of fossil avian tracks, these tracks have the capacity to complement the traditional skeletal fos...
Article
A method to map seafloor substrates using machine learning, based on geophysical data including multibeam bathymetry, backscatter, and side-scan sonar, is currently being developed. Results from a case study in Table Bay, southwestern South Africa, are presented here, showing a method of physical seafloor classification that uses a number of statis...
Article
Coastal occupation and foraging during the last glacial maximum and early Holocene at Waterfall Bluff, eastern Pondoland, South Africa – Erratum - Erich C. Fisher, Hayley C. Cawthra, Irene Esteban, Antonieta Jerardino, Frank H. Neumann, Annette Oertle, Justin Pargeter, Rosaria B. Saktura, Katherine Szabó, Stephan Winkler, Irit Zohar
Article
Waterfall Bluff is a rock shelter in eastern Pondoland, South Africa, adjacent to a narrow continental shelf that limited coastline movements across glacial/interglacial cycles. The archaeological deposits are characterized by well-preserved stratigra-phy, faunal, and botanical remains alongside abundant stone artifacts and other materials. A compr...
Article
Coastal dune landscapes are subject to harsh environmental conditions and, owing to Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations, comprise small, fragmented features. These environments present several challenges for plant colonization and persistence, and dune floras are therefore likely to be species-poor but endemic-rich. Here, we explore an explicitly hi...
Article
We present a diatom record from a well‐dated 15.25 m composite sedimentary core from Verlorenvlei, a shallow coastal lake on the west coast of South Africa. We show that fluctuations in the diatom record occur in response to changes in sea level, ocean–atmosphere interactions and latitudinal shifts in the wind belts. During the early to mid‐Holocen...
Article
The Cape south coast of South Africa contains a wealth of Pleistocene vertebrate trace fossil sites in aeolianites and cemented foreshore deposits. Published studies have described mammal and avian tracksites identified along this coastline. We report here on a number of Pleistocene palaeosurfaces within the Garden Route National Park that exhibit...
Article
Intertidal zones on shorelines are geologically complex features of the coastal plain, shaped by heterogeneous substrate lithologies. Palaeocoastlines have been heavily modified by sea-level change, ocean currents, wind, waves and swell. Rocks and sediments along intertidal zones create rich habitats for biogenic forms including shellfish, which ar...
Article
Around the city of Cape Town, South Africa, the basal Neoproterozoic rocks are poorly exposed. There is however, historical evidence for good exposure of these rocks on the seafloor of Table Bay, although not mapped at sufficient resolution nor areal extent for significant conclusions. The Council for Geoscience therefore decided to commence their...
Article
The inner to mid continental shelf of the Agulhas Bank, which forms part of the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain, is scattered with Pleistocene deposits. Their wide lateral extension is the expression of a flat underlying substrate, availability of accommodation space, and depositional processes in response to glacio-eustatic sea-level change. We present seism...
Article
Body fossil remains usually provide the main palaeontological resource for palaeoecological studies. Ichnology has the capacity to independently complement such data. Fossil tracksites provide a direct record of animals whose tracks have been preserved, and with regard to the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain they have direct relevance in considering palaeoecol...
Article
The Cape south coast of South Africa boasts one of the richest Middle Stone Age (MSA) archaeological records in the world. Here coastal caves and rock shelters contain well-documented archives of early humans, including early evidence of human adornment and jewelry, rock engraving and rock paSabstextinting. It has been suggested that palaeoenvironm...
Article
The Palaeo-Agulhas Plain (PAP), when exposed, presented Middle Stone Age (MSA) foragers at Pinnacle Point (PP) on the South Coast of South Africa with new sources of raw materials to make stone tools. Sea-level fluctuations and the changing size of the Paleo-Agulhas Plain throughout the Pleistocene PP record ∼165 ka to 50 ka would have altered the...
Article
Full-text available
More than 130 late Pleistocene trackway sites from the coastal eolianites and beach deposits of the Cape south coast, South Africa, have previously mostly yielded tracks of large mammals and birds. However, two sites east of Still Bay, and a third near Garden Route National Park, yield distinctive trackways of hatchling sea turtles, made during the...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past three decades, marine resource management has shifted conceptually from top-down sectoral approaches towards the more systems-oriented multi-stakeholder frameworks of integrated coastal management and ecosystem-based conservation. However, the successful implementation of such frameworks is commonly hindered by a lack of cross-discipl...
Presentation
Full-text available
Environmental history plays an important role in shaping contemporary patterns of plant diversity in the Cape Floristic Region (CFR). Most studies from this region have focused on explaining diversity patterns of zonal inland habitats, where diversity declines along a west–east gradient; diversity of coastal dunes, on the other hand — especially th...
Article
The site of Blombos Cave (BBC) is well known for archaeological remains that have advanced our understanding of the development of modern human behaviour during the Middle Stone Age (MSA). Occupation of the cave occurred against a backdrop of landscape-scale environmental and sedimentary processes that provide the broader context for finer-scale in...
Article
The South African Cape South Coast is bordered by one of the broadest continental shelves in Africa. The Agulhas Bank, inshore shelf and presently exposed coastal plain make up the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain (PAP), though our area of study extends beyond this limit and as far inland as the first mountain belt. Quaternary sea levels have been significantl...
Article
African savannah grasslands initially proliferated in the late Miocene due to declining atmospheric CO2, rather than previously proposed regional climate drying. Supplanting previous woodland vegetation due to photosynthetic adaptations, these grasslands set the stage for subsequent mammalian evolutionary trends on the continent.
Preprint
Full-text available
The continental shelf of the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain (PAP) is scattered with Pleistocene deposits with subdued topography. Their exaggerated lateral extension is the expression of a flat underlying substrate and availability of accommodation space, depositional processes and response to glacio-eustatic sea-level change have influenced deposition and d...
Preprint
The continental shelf of the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain (PAP) is scattered with Pleistocene deposits with subdued topography. Their exaggerated lateral extension is the expression of a flat underlying substrate and availability of accommodation space, depositional processes and response to glacio-eustatic sea-level change have influenced deposition and d...
Poster
Full-text available
The use of radiogenic strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) has a long and productive history in archaeological science (Bentley, 2006). Provenance analysis of archaeological hard tissues like enamel, bone, and shell relies upon a reference data set of landscape variation in strontium available for incorporation into the skeleton (bioavailable Sr)....
Conference Paper
The Msikaba Red Sand Dunes along South Africa's Pondoland coast are a recently discovered open-air site complex that documents Middle Pleistocene lithic technological and morphological change. The deposit comprises ancient dune surfaces stacked over time with repeated sea-level highstand events. Initial excavations and surface collections document...
Article
Natural sources of freshwater are a limiting feature to the distribution of terrestrial species that rely on regular hydration, especially in coastal environments. Early modern humans would similarly be restricted by water supply and likely would have congregated or settled in close proximity to permanent water bodies such as beyond the estuarine e...
Data
This model is an application of Brantingham’s neutral model to a real landscape with real locations of potential sources. The sources are represented as their sizes during current conditions, and from marine geophysics surveys, and the agent starts at a random location in Mossel Bay Region (MBR) surrounding the Archaeological Pinnacle Point (PP) lo...
Conference Paper
The P5 Project is an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers studying hunter-gatherer adaptations in persistent coastal contexts in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Since 2015, excavations at the site of Waterfall Bluff (A2SE-1) have revealed stratified and well-preserved remains of coastal hunter-gatherer occupations dati...
Conference Paper
Waterfall Bluff, located on South Africa’s Pondoland coastline, is a recently excavated archaeological site with deposits dating from ~50 thousand years ago (ka BP), during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3, to the Early Holocene, ~11 ka BP. This site provides the first primary evidence of coastal foraging during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in South...
Conference Paper
A marine core (GeoB 20615) from Maputo Bay, offshore of Mozambique, reveals vegetation fluctuations during the last c. 16,000 years. The chronology is based on 12 radiocarbon dates from planktonic foraminifera, terrestrial organic remains, e.g., seeds, and gastropod shells. Until c. 15 ka Before Present (BP) high percentages of fynbos elements, esp...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
A marine core (GeoB 20615) from Maputo Bay, offshore of Mozambique, reveals vegetation fluctuations during the last c. 16,000 years. The chronology is based on 12 radiocarbon dates from planktonic foraminifera, terrestrial organic remains, e.g., seeds, and gastropod shells. Until c. 15 ka Before Present (BP) high percentages of fynbos elements, esp...
Article
Full-text available
Compared with other parts of the world, the study of geomythology in southern Africa, and the associated documentation of non-western awareness of palaeontological and geological phenomena, is in an early phase. We focus on examples of rocks and fossils as items of special interest and curiosity, and we search for evidence of an indigenous palaeont...
Article
Full-text available
East of Still Bay on the Cape south coast of South Africa lies a rugged, remote stretch of sea cliffs that expose Late Pleistocene aeolianites. A zone of dense concentration of fossil tracks occurs within this area. Two large rocks, which we call Roberts Rock and Megafauna Rock, were identified ~400 metres apart. These rocks contained a variety of...
Article
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...
Article
Full-text available
Terrestrial signals in marine sediment archives are often used for paleoclimatic reconstructions. It is therefore important to know the origin of the different terrestrial sedimentary components. The proximity to a river mouth is often the key location to determine the source. Especially in regions with strong ocean currents, such an assumption mig...
Article
Full-text available
Southern Africa occupies a critical position within the southern hemisphere for the study of broadscale global change and the three oceans around South Africa (the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans) play a vital role in determining local and regional climate and weather patterns. Oceans and coasts also provide various resources and services (e.g...
Article
Full-text available
A Late Pleistocene hominin tracksite has been identified in coastal aeolianite rocks on the Cape south coast of South Africa, an area of great significance for the emergence of modern humans. The tracks are in the form of natural casts and occur on the ceiling and side walls of a ten-metre long cave. Preservation of tracks is of variable quality. U...
Article
Until now there have been no reliable historical or skeletal fossil records for the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) south of the Orange River or northern Namaqualand. The recent discovery of fossil giraffe tracks in coastal aeolianites east of Still Bay, South Africa, significantly increases the geographical range for this species, and has implica...