The Geological Survey of Israel

The prime role of the GSI team collaborating in GATEWAYS is to reconstruct the long-term climatic conditions of southern South Africa. The southern coast of South Africa is a focus of interrelated scientific studies of human evolution, floral diversity, and Southern Hemisphere climate mechanisms.  The southern coast is at the confluence of two major oceanic systems influential to world climate - the cold Benguela Upwelling and the warm Agulhas Current.  The juncture of a winter rainfall system to the west and summer to the east occurs near the east-west mid-point of the southern coast, and the relative positions of these systems in reaction to global climate change continue to be a focus of study and debate. Central to our effort is the study of speleothems (stalagmites, stalagtites, and flowstones) because they are excellent continental paleoclimate proxy and can be precisely dated.

The analytical programme of the GSI in GATEWAYS aims at collecting palaeo-data from speleothems from coastal caves in South Africa, to determine the age of individual laminae of each speleothems by the U-Th methods using Multiple Collector Induced Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer, and to determine at high resolution their d18O and d13C ratios. The results are distributed among the partners so the information gained from the land can be compared with the marine record.

The coastal caves that are targeted by the GSI team provide optimum means to study linkages with the Antarctic ice cores and marine sediment cores so as to examining the complex interplay of regional climate, environment, and flora relative to offshore ocean climatology. There are several archaeological sites within several hundred meters of the speleothem caves that have rich archaeological records for early modern human behaviour. Understanding the past climate of the region provides the opportunity to relate between the southern African climate and human evolution.

Partner Profile

The Geological Survey of Israel (GSI) is a government research institute operating under the Earth Science Research Administration within the Ministry of National Infrastructures, and is involved in earth science research and development in the broadest senses, adapting itself to the changing needs of a small and dynamic country. The objectives of the GSI are: to document, study and conduct research in all aspects of the country's geology, to act as an advisory body to all government branches and major public and private enterprises, to maintain a national and regional earth sciences data base, and to maintain an analytical infrastructure. Its present staff numbers some seventy tenured and some twenty temporary employees, most of whom are scientists (geology, chemistry, physics). In addition, twenty M.Sc. and Ph.D. students carry out their research within the framework of the GSI.

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