SPLOSH Focus Group

Submerged Palaeolandscapes of the Southern Hemisphere

About us

The nature and human occupation of submerged coastal landscapes has rapidly emerged as a key topic in Quaternary science in the last decade, aided by new and higher-resolution technologies and focused research programs. These have been relatively well documented in the Northern Hemisphere, and are beginning to be translated into the Southern Hemisphere where the study of submerged palaeolandscapes faces specific challenges and unique opportunities. Global changes in relative sea level of up to 120 or 130 m below present during the Last Glacial Maximum (~ 22,000 years before present) had a profound influence on the movement of people including between Island South Asia and Australia, as well as within the South American and South African landmasses. Vast coastal plains and hence a significant portion of archaeological evidence, were drowned during the marine transgression, with estimates of up to 40% decrease in continental landmass (~ 190 sq. km/yr) within the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Importantly there is increasing scientific evidence that traces of this unique record have been preserved on Southern Hemisphere continental shelves, alongside growing awareness of cultural continuity with this Sea Country through oral history.

Funded by INQUA for 2020 – 2023, the SPLOSH focus group aims to increase awareness of submerged landscapes and environmental changes in the Southern Hemisphere, and help provide a platform for scientific exchange and interdisciplinary collaboration to help strengthen the importance of research in this region.

We focus on common themes such as sea-level change, coastal landform evolution, human dispersals and coastal resources use, with a particular emphasis on Indigenous perspectives and connections with Sea Country, all aimed towards improved science, knowledge and resource management of a shared heritage.

Our key questions include:

  1. How does the greater oceanic area of the Southern Hemisphere influence the nature and preservation of submerged landscapes, and how these are studied?
  2. How can we incorporate concerns, interests, knowledge, traditions, and perspectives of First Nations people in submerged landscapes research?
  3. How do different biogeographical perspectives from the SH influence our understanding of human migration and past coastal resource use?
  4. What new challenges and opportunities can arise from SPLOSH.

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What we do

Themed workshops

View glacial period

Workshop 1 (2020)

Southern Hemisphere perspectives

2020 In June 2020, SPLOSH held the first of a series of annual workshops aimed at showcasing and exploring current submerged landscape research in the Southern Hemisphere. Recordings from the online workshop can be found on the ResearchGate project page.

2021 Upcoming SPLOSH workshops for 2021 include ‘SHINE’ - a joint event organized with the INQUA Focus Group NEPTUNE showcasing research in the form of virtual fieldtrips or geotours. This should be a visually exciting event and further details can again be found on the same ResearchGate project link above. Other SPLOSH-themed workshops are planned in Perth (Australia) and Cape Town (Sth Africa) later this year.

2022-3 COVID-allowing, the 2022 annual workshop will take place in South America and will explore amongst other things Indigenous Perspectives on Submerged Palaeolandscapes. The 2023 workshop explores biogeographical perspectives on coastal corridors of the Southern Hemisphere. Further information will be made available at a later date.

In addition to the workshops, there will be a Special Issue on inundated cultural landscapes in World Archaeology. We are particularly interested in papers that address inundated landscapes in the Southern Hemisphere and how this region might offer different perspectives to the north.

Interactive map

We will be developing an interactive map to highlight some projects happening across the Southern Hemisphere. If you would like your project added to our map, please get in touch!

Committee members

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Ingrid Ward


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Hayley Cawthra

(South Africa)

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Andrew Green

(South Africa)

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Alex Bastos

(South America)

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Diego Carabias

(South America)

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Helen Farr

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Fraser Sturt

Get in touch

A more detailed webpage is still in development, where we hope to provide links to projects and their outputs – let us know if you want us to showcase yours!

If you’d like to find out more about any of the above, or to simply add your name to our current mailing list, please contact any one of us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Ingrid Ward: [email protected]

Helen Farr: [email protected]

Fraser Sturt: [email protected]

Hayley Cawthra: [email protected]

Andrew Green: [email protected]