GeoArchive - Signals of climate and landscape change preserved in southern African GeoArchives

Funding: BMBF - Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Status: current


Dr. Achim Wehrmann - Senckenberg am Meer (SaM)

Prof. Dr. Heinz Wilkes - Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg

Prof. Dr. Jörg Völkel - Technische Universität München

Marine and terrestrial climate archives will be used to get a better understanding of climate evolution and changing environmental condition in south-western Africa (Namibia and South Africa) during the Holocene. Since there are no lakes in this area, continental salt pans represent the only terrestrial geoarchives with the potential to preserve climate signals during phases of deposition. Additionally the southwestern African coastal lagoons are used to describe sediments with marine sources. This project will study the diversity of microorganisms of coastal lagoons and several continental salt pans in response to modern and past climate-induced environmental conditions. One intention more will be to understand the development within the microbial community in this extreme halophilic environment. Climate has a strong effect on these ecosystems, causing adaptation of indigenous microorganisms to varying temperature, precipitation and salinity conditions.

This project will be focused on the impact of climatic variation and to the corresponding environmental changes within the microbial communities. Therefore, it is planned to use microbial biomarker analyses for paleoenvironmental reconstruction studies. The project “Signals of climate and landscape change preserved in southern African GeoArchives” is part of the SPACES program (Science Partnerships for the Assessment of Complex Earth System Processes) which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). 


  • Characterization of the microbial communities in continental salt pan sediments and in lagoon ecosystems 
  • Detection of microbial biomarkers for palaeoenvironmental analyses
  • Describing changes within the microbial community due to climatically induced environmental changes in the southern African region


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