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Bellville, South Africa

Copeland S.R.,Los Alamos National Laboratory | Copeland S.R.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Cawthra H.C.,Geophysics Competency | Cawthra H.C.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | And 9 more authors.
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2016

Middle Stone Age sites located within the Greater Cape Floristic Region on the South African southern coast have material culture with early evidence for key modern human behaviors such as projectile weaponry, large animal hunting, and symbolic behavior. In order to interpret how and why these changes evolved, it is necessary to understand their ecological context as it has direct relevance to foraging behavior. During periods of lowered sea level, a largely flat and vast expanse of land existed south of the modern coastline, but it is now submerged by higher sea levels. This exposed area, the Paleo-Agulhas Plain, likely created an ecological context unlike anything in the region today, as evidenced by fossil assemblages dominated by migratory ungulates. One hypothesis is that the Paleo-Agulhas Plain supported a migration ecosystem of large grazers driven by summer rainfall, producing palatable forage during summer in the east, and winter rainfall, producing palatable forage during winter in the west. Alternatively, ungulates may have been moving from the coastal plain in the south to the interior north of the Cape Fold Mountains, as observed for elephants in historic times.In this study, we assess ungulate movement patterns with inter- and intra-tooth enamel samples for strontium isotopes in fossil fauna from Pinnacle Point sites PP13B and PP30. To accomplish our goals we created a bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr isoscape for the region by collecting plants at 171 sampling sites and developing a geospatial model. The strontium isotope results indicate that ungulates spent most of their time on the Paleo-Agulhas Plain and avoided dissected plain, foothill, and mountain habitats located more than about 15 km north of the modern coastline. The results clearly exclude a north-south (coastal-interior) movement or migration pattern, and cannot falsify the east-west movements hypothesized in the south coast migration ecosystem hypothesis. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Midzi V.,Geophysics Competency | Zulu B.,Geophysics Competency | Manzunzu B.,Geophysics Competency | Mulabisana T.,Geophysics Competency | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Seismology | Year: 2015

On 5 August 2014 at 1222 hours (local time), an earthquake of local magnitude ML = 5.5 occurred in the Orkney area in the North West Province, South Africa. The earthquake shaking was felt widely in South Africa as far as Cape Town as well as in Maputo, Mozambique, and Gaborone in Botswana. One person was killed when a wall collapsed on him, and more than 600 houses were damaged. Following the earthquake, many people submitted reports to the Council for Geoscience (CGS) through an online questionnaire which recorded their experience, whilst others reported the event and its effects on social networks like Twitter and in newspapers. The CGS also sent out a team of scientists to further assess the effects of the event in the community by interviewing members of the public and completing additional questionnaires. A total of 866 observations were collected. Analysis of the collected macroseismic data produced 170 intensity data points which showed that a maximum intensity of VII was experienced in communities located in the epicentral area. The observed attenuation of intensity values was comparable to that observed on the French stable continental region especially in the area of 600-km radius from the epicentre. Airborne geophysical data were used to try and identify the fault along which the earthquake occurred. This was necessary as there was no surface expression of the earthquake and no previously identified fault near the epicentre. The interpretation of the data showed a fault located about 500 m from the epicentre appearing to form a boundary to the east of located aftershocks. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

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