Geoarchaeological and 3D visualisation approaches for contextualising in-situ fossil bearing palaeokarst in South Africa

A case study from the ∼2.61 Ma Drimolen Makondo

Andy I.R. Herries, Ashleigh Murszewski, Robyn Pickering, Tom Mallett, Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Brian Armstrong, Justin W. Adams, Stephanie Baker, Alex F. Blackwood, Paul Penzo-Kajewski, Peter Kappen, AB Leece, Jesse Martin, Douglass Rovinsky, Giovanni Boschian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

South Africa contains a wealth of palaeokarst deposits that have yielded hominin fossils and Early Stone Age archaeology. Despite the complex nature of deposition within many of these caves there has been a dearth of detailed geoarchaeological studies undertaken on these sites. Many sites in South Africa have been interpreted using an overly simplistic Member System based on simplified sedimentological attributes, rather than chronostratigrahic units. Many of the defined Members thus identify different, but contemporary geological processes occurring in the caves. This has caused serious confusion in reconstructing the life histories of palaeocaves and the ages of the fossil remains interned within them. It is critical to uncover new sites that have not been extensively altered by decades of data collection and destructive mining techniques employed early in their discovery. Although unmined sites present their own problems with regards to extensive colluvium cover and access to fossil-bearing units, analysing strata that is found in-situ enhances overall confidence of interpretations drawn. A wealth of geoarchaeological and 3D visualisation techniques can now be employed to aid in the understanding of cave life histories, as well as their excavation. In this paper we present the first attempt to integrate and publish data from a range of such methods on South African fossil bearing palaeokarst using the newly discovered Drimolen Makondo deposit as a case study. This includes the use of ground penetrating radar, 3D visualisation through photogrammetry and multi-scale 3D scanning, micromophology and petrography, palaeomagnetism, mineral magnetism, synchrotron radiation, electron spin resonance, uranium-lead dating and biochronology. Our analysis has allowed us to successfully uncover the full extent of this new ∼2.61 Ma fossil bearing palaeokarst deposit and to visualise and interpret its chronostratigraphy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-110
Number of pages21
JournalQuaternary International
Volume483
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • Electron spin resonance
  • Ground penetrating radar
  • Micromorphology
  • Palaeomagnetism
  • Photogrammetry & 3D scanning
  • Uranium-lead dating

Cite this

Herries, Andy I.R. ; Murszewski, Ashleigh ; Pickering, Robyn ; Mallett, Tom ; Joannes-Boyau, Renaud ; Armstrong, Brian ; Adams, Justin W. ; Baker, Stephanie ; Blackwood, Alex F. ; Penzo-Kajewski, Paul ; Kappen, Peter ; Leece, AB ; Martin, Jesse ; Rovinsky, Douglass ; Boschian, Giovanni. / Geoarchaeological and 3D visualisation approaches for contextualising in-situ fossil bearing palaeokarst in South Africa : A case study from the ∼2.61 Ma Drimolen Makondo. In: Quaternary International. 2018 ; Vol. 483. pp. 90-110.
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title = "Geoarchaeological and 3D visualisation approaches for contextualising in-situ fossil bearing palaeokarst in South Africa: A case study from the ∼2.61 Ma Drimolen Makondo",
abstract = "South Africa contains a wealth of palaeokarst deposits that have yielded hominin fossils and Early Stone Age archaeology. Despite the complex nature of deposition within many of these caves there has been a dearth of detailed geoarchaeological studies undertaken on these sites. Many sites in South Africa have been interpreted using an overly simplistic Member System based on simplified sedimentological attributes, rather than chronostratigrahic units. Many of the defined Members thus identify different, but contemporary geological processes occurring in the caves. This has caused serious confusion in reconstructing the life histories of palaeocaves and the ages of the fossil remains interned within them. It is critical to uncover new sites that have not been extensively altered by decades of data collection and destructive mining techniques employed early in their discovery. Although unmined sites present their own problems with regards to extensive colluvium cover and access to fossil-bearing units, analysing strata that is found in-situ enhances overall confidence of interpretations drawn. A wealth of geoarchaeological and 3D visualisation techniques can now be employed to aid in the understanding of cave life histories, as well as their excavation. In this paper we present the first attempt to integrate and publish data from a range of such methods on South African fossil bearing palaeokarst using the newly discovered Drimolen Makondo deposit as a case study. This includes the use of ground penetrating radar, 3D visualisation through photogrammetry and multi-scale 3D scanning, micromophology and petrography, palaeomagnetism, mineral magnetism, synchrotron radiation, electron spin resonance, uranium-lead dating and biochronology. Our analysis has allowed us to successfully uncover the full extent of this new ∼2.61 Ma fossil bearing palaeokarst deposit and to visualise and interpret its chronostratigraphy.",
keywords = "Electron spin resonance, Ground penetrating radar, Micromorphology, Palaeomagnetism, Photogrammetry & 3D scanning, Uranium-lead dating",
author = "Herries, {Andy I.R.} and Ashleigh Murszewski and Robyn Pickering and Tom Mallett and Renaud Joannes-Boyau and Brian Armstrong and Adams, {Justin W.} and Stephanie Baker and Blackwood, {Alex F.} and Paul Penzo-Kajewski and Peter Kappen and AB Leece and Jesse Martin and Douglass Rovinsky and Giovanni Boschian",
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Herries, AIR, Murszewski, A, Pickering, R, Mallett, T, Joannes-Boyau, R, Armstrong, B, Adams, JW, Baker, S, Blackwood, AF, Penzo-Kajewski, P, Kappen, P, Leece, AB, Martin, J, Rovinsky, D & Boschian, G 2018, 'Geoarchaeological and 3D visualisation approaches for contextualising in-situ fossil bearing palaeokarst in South Africa: A case study from the ∼2.61 Ma Drimolen Makondo', Quaternary International, vol. 483, pp. 90-110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2018.01.001

Geoarchaeological and 3D visualisation approaches for contextualising in-situ fossil bearing palaeokarst in South Africa : A case study from the ∼2.61 Ma Drimolen Makondo. / Herries, Andy I.R.; Murszewski, Ashleigh; Pickering, Robyn; Mallett, Tom; Joannes-Boyau, Renaud; Armstrong, Brian; Adams, Justin W.; Baker, Stephanie; Blackwood, Alex F.; Penzo-Kajewski, Paul; Kappen, Peter; Leece, AB; Martin, Jesse; Rovinsky, Douglass; Boschian, Giovanni.

In: Quaternary International, Vol. 483, 30.07.2018, p. 90-110.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

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T2 - A case study from the ∼2.61 Ma Drimolen Makondo

AU - Herries, Andy I.R.

AU - Murszewski, Ashleigh

AU - Pickering, Robyn

AU - Mallett, Tom

AU - Joannes-Boyau, Renaud

AU - Armstrong, Brian

AU - Adams, Justin W.

AU - Baker, Stephanie

AU - Blackwood, Alex F.

AU - Penzo-Kajewski, Paul

AU - Kappen, Peter

AU - Leece, AB

AU - Martin, Jesse

AU - Rovinsky, Douglass

AU - Boschian, Giovanni

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N2 - South Africa contains a wealth of palaeokarst deposits that have yielded hominin fossils and Early Stone Age archaeology. Despite the complex nature of deposition within many of these caves there has been a dearth of detailed geoarchaeological studies undertaken on these sites. Many sites in South Africa have been interpreted using an overly simplistic Member System based on simplified sedimentological attributes, rather than chronostratigrahic units. Many of the defined Members thus identify different, but contemporary geological processes occurring in the caves. This has caused serious confusion in reconstructing the life histories of palaeocaves and the ages of the fossil remains interned within them. It is critical to uncover new sites that have not been extensively altered by decades of data collection and destructive mining techniques employed early in their discovery. Although unmined sites present their own problems with regards to extensive colluvium cover and access to fossil-bearing units, analysing strata that is found in-situ enhances overall confidence of interpretations drawn. A wealth of geoarchaeological and 3D visualisation techniques can now be employed to aid in the understanding of cave life histories, as well as their excavation. In this paper we present the first attempt to integrate and publish data from a range of such methods on South African fossil bearing palaeokarst using the newly discovered Drimolen Makondo deposit as a case study. This includes the use of ground penetrating radar, 3D visualisation through photogrammetry and multi-scale 3D scanning, micromophology and petrography, palaeomagnetism, mineral magnetism, synchrotron radiation, electron spin resonance, uranium-lead dating and biochronology. Our analysis has allowed us to successfully uncover the full extent of this new ∼2.61 Ma fossil bearing palaeokarst deposit and to visualise and interpret its chronostratigraphy.

AB - South Africa contains a wealth of palaeokarst deposits that have yielded hominin fossils and Early Stone Age archaeology. Despite the complex nature of deposition within many of these caves there has been a dearth of detailed geoarchaeological studies undertaken on these sites. Many sites in South Africa have been interpreted using an overly simplistic Member System based on simplified sedimentological attributes, rather than chronostratigrahic units. Many of the defined Members thus identify different, but contemporary geological processes occurring in the caves. This has caused serious confusion in reconstructing the life histories of palaeocaves and the ages of the fossil remains interned within them. It is critical to uncover new sites that have not been extensively altered by decades of data collection and destructive mining techniques employed early in their discovery. Although unmined sites present their own problems with regards to extensive colluvium cover and access to fossil-bearing units, analysing strata that is found in-situ enhances overall confidence of interpretations drawn. A wealth of geoarchaeological and 3D visualisation techniques can now be employed to aid in the understanding of cave life histories, as well as their excavation. In this paper we present the first attempt to integrate and publish data from a range of such methods on South African fossil bearing palaeokarst using the newly discovered Drimolen Makondo deposit as a case study. This includes the use of ground penetrating radar, 3D visualisation through photogrammetry and multi-scale 3D scanning, micromophology and petrography, palaeomagnetism, mineral magnetism, synchrotron radiation, electron spin resonance, uranium-lead dating and biochronology. Our analysis has allowed us to successfully uncover the full extent of this new ∼2.61 Ma fossil bearing palaeokarst deposit and to visualise and interpret its chronostratigraphy.

KW - Electron spin resonance

KW - Ground penetrating radar

KW - Micromorphology

KW - Palaeomagnetism

KW - Photogrammetry & 3D scanning

KW - Uranium-lead dating

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