The character, origin and palaeoenvironmental significance of the Wonderkrater spring mound, South Africa

T.S. McCarthy, W.N. Ellery, L. Backwell, P. Marren, B. de Klerk, S. Tooth, D. Brandt, S. Woodborne

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20 Citations (SciVal)


Wonderkrater is a spring mound consisting entirely of peat in excess of 8 m thick. It has yielded a pollen record extending back over 35,000 years, which has provided one of the very few proxy climatic records for the interior of southern Africa in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. The current investigation of the morphology and sedimentology of the site has revealed that the peat mound formed due to artesian conditions at the spring, but that accumulation of the thick peat succession was made possible because of clastic sedimentation on the surrounding piedmont which in turn was brought about by aggradation on the adjacent Nyl River floodplain. The peat mound has remained elevated relative to the surrounding piedmont for most of the 35,000 year period. Aggradation of the mound was slower during the Late Pleistocene than the Holocene (0.06–0.1 m/1000 year and 0.2–0.38 m/1000 year, respectively). Controlled archaeological excavations yielded a diverse late Pleistocene fauna preserved in peat and sand in the mound. A 1 m thick, coarse sand horizon at the base of the peat deposit contained a rich Middle Stone Age (>30 k year) lithic assemblage. The MSA sand layer likely represents an arid phase, suggesting the site’s antiquity as a place of refuge for Quaternary animals and the people that hunted them. Keywords: Wonderkrater; Peat mound; Spring mound; Artesian spring
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-126
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2010


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