The Last Glacial Maximum climate at Boomplaas Cave, South Africa

J. Tyler Faith, Brian M. Chase, Justin Pargeter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    With a rich sequence of floral and faunal remains spanning the past >65,000 years, Boomplaas Cave is among the more important paleoenvironmental archives from South Africa's southern Cape. However, over the last several decades, its paleoenvironmental records have been the subject of conflicting interpretations, fueling uncertainty over fundamental aspects of Quaternary climate change in the region. Most significantly, researchers have variably interpreted the fossil plant and animal assemblages dating to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) as indicating harsh and arid or humid and productive conditions. This review critically examines the paleoenvironmental evidence from Boomplaas Cave, focusing on its LGM deposits and how they relate to the contentious problem of moisture availability through time. We show that interpretations of aridity during the LGM either (i) lack robust ecological links between the evidence and the paleoenvironmental interpretation, or (ii) are based on spurious patterns arising from sampling effects. In contrast, interpretations of relatively humid conditions during the LGM are grounded in present-day ecological observations and are consistent with both local and regional paleoenvironmental datasets. Overall, the evidence strongly supports the characterization of the LGM as a time of relatively humid conditions, with the transition to the Holocene characterized by increasing aridity. Several lines of evidence from Boomplaas Cave further suggest that this phase of increased humidity was associated with a dominance of winter rainfall, in contrast to the aseasonal rainfall regime that characterizes the southern Cape today.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number108557
    JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
    StatePublished - Apr 1 2024


    • Charcoal
    • Mammals
    • Paleoclimate
    • Paleoecology
    • Pollen
    • South Africa

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Global and Planetary Change
    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Archaeology
    • Archaeology
    • Geology


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Last Glacial Maximum climate at Boomplaas Cave, South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this