Paleolandscape Reconstruction using Geoproxy Evidence at Erfkroon, South Africa
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The site of Erfkroon, located in the Western Free State Province, South Africa, is characterized by a complex alluvial system in which paleoenvironmental, fossil, microbotanical and archaeological materials are preserved in abundance during the Late Quaternary period. Multi-disciplinary investigations have demonstrated the presence of Middle and Later Stone Age human occupations in the site’s overbank deposits in which sedimentation and phases of pedogenic development span ~120 ka. Better defining periods of sedimentation, erosion, geomorphic stability and pedogenesis within these deposits is fundamental to understanding Erfkroon’s geological, paleoclimatical and archaeological records. There are currently two competing models describing the genesis of these strata: The Single-Terrace Accretionary Hypothesis (Tooth et al. 2013; Lyons et al. 2014) and the Multiple Terrace Allostratigraphy Hypothesis (Bousman & Brink 2014). This study evaluates the validity both models using multiple theoretical and methodological approaches. Systematic field description of multiple profile exposures across the study area, coupled with magnetic susceptibility, particle size, and micromorphological analytical techniques provides one the highest resolution geological studies of the terrace system to-date, and further clarifies the nature of these deposits within the context of human occupation and paleoclimatic change in the continental interior at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.