In the periglacial South Atlantic Ocean five coastal landform series (CLFS): CLFS1 (Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas), CLFS2 (Tierra del Fuego), CLFS3 (South Georgia + Scotia Ridge), CLFS 4 (South Shetland Archipelago) and CLFS 5 (Antarctic Peninsula) have been established and studied with regard to their geomorphology and sedimentary petrography. Although being several hundreds of kilometer apart from each other the majority of sites belong to the same climate zone, the polar tundra climate excluding the CLFS 1 which is more humid and the CLFS 5 on the opposite side that passes into the polar frost zone. The hydrographic regime is in the majority of cases microtidal, excluding some coastal regions in CLFS 1 and CLFS 5 where micro-mesotidal conditions exist around the volcanic edifices.
The climate variation has an impact on the weathering of the landforms, which abruptly changes from chemical to physical between CLFS 3 and 4, and gradually from CLFS 1 to CLFS 3 (oxidic reducing regime, pH more acidic meteoric fluids). The CLFS 1 to 3 evolved in a geodynamically stable setting attested to by a high landscape maturity, whereas CLFS 4 and 5 are situated in a geodynamically mobile regime leading to structural landforms instead of sculptural ones of lower maturity.
The CLFS1 to CLFS 3 are characterized by landscape types of plains, channels, fjords and bays which incise or truncate highly to partially eroded mountain blocks which were uplifted near the coast and thereby overprint relic landforms such as peneplains and pediments. The three geomorphological processes shaping the area between land and sea are (1) coastal marine – landforms given in brackets (beach, cliffs - beach scarps, dunes plus aeolian sand sheets, fjord remodeled into channels, bays (drowned cirque glaciers), wave-cut platforms, tidal flats (rocky), tombolo), (2) glacial (boulder trains, cirque-tarn-lip, cryopediments (?), glacial-fluvial channels, moraines , outburst valleys and spillways, pattern grounds (plus stone runs),roches moutonnées through- to U-shaped valleys, and (3) mass wasting (rock fall transitional into –slide, talus plus soil creep). While mass wasting is a rather conservative process, the glacial land-forming processes increase in quality and intensity from CLFS 1 to CLFS 3. The coastal marine processes are rather conservative, excluding those processes which interdigitate with glacial marine processes, e.g., evolution of fjords and when strongly controlled by the magmatic and metamorphic lithology. The CLFS 4 and CLFS 5 are magmatic-arc, rift-, and fold belt-related. Both reference sites mark a volcanic landscape arising from the sea, the first one under subaerial, the second one under subglacial conditions. In these modern geodynamic settings structural volcanic landforms (cones, maars, craters, pyroclastic fans of flow and surge deposits, flat-topped volcanic plateaus, tuya) predominate. The coastal marine, glacial and mass wasting induced land form types resemble those of the CLFS 1 to CLFS 3. Among the mass wasting slide and flow deposits are more common near the beach. Among the glacial deposits moraines, arêtes and nunataks are more common in the coastal hinterland. The wave-dominated coastal marine landforms (beach, cliffs-beach scarps, wave cut platforms) become more variegated when the tidal range increases (tidal channel ephemeral stream, tidal flats). There are also mixed types between alluvial-fluvial and glacial marine named embryonic glacial-marine fan deltas.
Based upon the current study an approximation of the relief generations or palaeo-landscapes can be achieve for the coastal region (hinderland + beach) in the S Atlantic Ocean: Peneplanation (relic form) – Oligo-Miocene pedimentation (relic form) – Neogene Glaciation and deglaciation conducive to depositional and erosive sculptural landforms = Volcanic activity conducive to structural landforms –Pleistocene-Holocene Coastal marine and mass wasting processes conducive to depositional and erosive sculptural landforms - Pleistocene-Holocene. By analogy with similar geodynamic landscape types elsewhere the two principal landscapes are denominated as “Meso-Afro-American “ (CLFS 1 to 3) and “Neo-American” (CLFS 4 and 5). These two technical terms are self-explanatory as to the geodynamic parent material and eligible for a maturity-based correlation of landscapes.
The combination of the clast orientation, granulometry, grain morphology and shape in combination with sorting and clast mineralogy (visual lithological inspection X-ray diffraction scanning electron microscope supplemented with WDX/EDX electron microprobe micro-Raman spectrometry) has proved to be a valuable tool to lend support to the genetic interpretation of the existing landform types mentioned above and to bridge the gap between actuogeological processes and ancient equivalent sites as being subjected to an environment or paleogeographic analyses. The poor chemical supergene alteration in the periglacial-coastal study area renders it favorable for the application of these sedimentological and mineralogical methods. In conclusion, this methodological approach is promising for all those climate zones with limited chemical weathering for which the diagrams and tables are designed as reference types such cold as hot dry cold climate zones and mountainous regions. Environments typical of depositional and transport processes driven by the (1) hydraulic and entrainment equivalence, (2) attrition and (3) winnowing are the prime targets for the use of these methods. Even polycyclic reworking processes in coastal landscapes where marine, glacial and gravity driven processes interfere with each other around structural geomorphological landforms or have originated from relic ones may be differentiated from each other.