Coasts as archives of the past

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

Scheffers, AM, Scheffers, SR & Kelletat, DH 2012, 'Coasts as archives of the past', in AM Scheffers, SR Scheffers & DH Kelletat (eds), The coastlines of the world with Google Earth: understanding our environment, vol. 2, Coastal Research Library, Springer Netherlands, pp. 223-237. ISBN: 9789400707375

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What roles have human impacts and natural processes had in shaping the evolution of our world’s coastlines during the Holocene? Where, when and how did natural processes such as sea level rise or societies transform the coastal zone? At what scales and rhythms did these changes took place? What can coastal archives tell us about human-environment interactions? Geoarchaeological research attempt to understand the interplay between culture and nature, and more particularly how environments and processes have played a role in Holocene human occupation of the coastal zone. This approach has drawn on the multidisciplinary study of geologic or biologic archives of information, to attempt to differentiate between anthropogenic and natural factors. Other landforms such as uplifted ancient shorelines are evidence for crustal movements in particular in areas of deglaciation and glacio-isostatic uplift. Stepped cliffs, uplifted notches, coastal staircases of ancient coral reefs or fixed biological sea-level indicators allow coastal scientists to reconstruct the history of relative sea-level variations or neotectonics along coastlines.