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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: June 2016

20 - Minerogenic microfossil records of Quaternary environmental change in southern Africa



Minerogenic microfossils are abundantly preserved in sedimentary sequences from a wide range of aquatic environments, including shallow and deep ocean basins, lakes, wetlands and estuaries, and in environments with a range of pH, temperature, salinity and nutrient loads. In southern Africa, pollen is used more commonly as a palaeoenvironmental proxy than are minerogenic microfossils, despite the wider range of environmental variables to which minerogenic micro-organisms respond. Palaeoenvironmental reconstructions in southern Africa that have utilised some of these microfossils demonstrate their value, particularly in multi-proxy analyses, when comparing microfossil community changes with those represented by pollen, charcoal and stable isotopes. This chapter outlines the minerogenic microfossils that are most commonly examined globally, and discusses some specific case studies from southern Africa that demonstrate the utility of microfossils in reconstructing Quaternary palaeoenvironments. We argue that efforts should be made to expand the use of minerogenic microfossils in southern African palaeoenvironmental studies, given the valuable information they provide, both as proxies and through facilitating isotope analysis and dating.

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