Project B5
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Soils, Colluviums and Valley Sediments as Indicators of Climatic Change and Landscape Evolution


Project Leader:

Prof. Dr. Ernst  Brunotte
Geographisches Institut
D-50923 Köln
 0221 / 470-4241
 0221/ 470-4917


Dipl. Geographin Kerstin Hartmann


Research Area:

North Namibia (Kunene Region)


Project-Cooperation (E1)





Research Area B5 Link to  Project E1
Research Area: North Namibia (Kunene Region)



Research Program:  

The aim of the investigations is to reconstruct the development of the landscapes of Kaokoland during the late Holocene with special reference to relief forms. Based on the division of the natural regions, the naturally and anthropogenic induced changes of the landscape will be recorded. Our interest focuses on the processes of soil erosion that has gone hand in hand with disturbances of the vegetation due to pasturing since the beginning of the pastoral-nomadic land-use. Furthermore, we will cover the temporal perspective of the transition from a natural landscape to a cultural landscape (German expression: ‘Kulturlandschaft’), i.e. from the outset of pasturing until the technological impact in our times (road construction, mines...)

Elaborating the pattern of natural landscapes of the area and analysing the indications of climatic fluctuations during the Holocene will serve to reveal the structure of regions favourable for pastoral nomadism or as supplementary pastures and regions for temporary retreat in its spatial and temporal variation. Thus, this structure will show potential  settlement and pasture areas as well as guidelines, which are important for the spread of economic  innovations.

In connection with the research projects on the development of continental margins (E. Brunotte and J. Spönemann) and relief genesis in the region of the North Namibian Anorthosite-Complex (H. Sander), which both run outside of the SFB, these investigations will yield a comprehensive description of Kaokoland with respect to the morphology and the genesis of the landscapes including an overview map of the main geomorphological features. 

Not only the classical morphographic-morphometric field methods (terrain observation, surveying, mapping, profile records) but also remote sensing (mapping and surveying by means of air photos, analysing of satellite images), dating methods (e.g. radiocarbon dating, theroluminescence [TL] and optical stimulated luminescence [OSL]) and laboratory analyses (e.g. micromorphology, X-ray-diffractometry, grain size determination, pH-value) are applied. 

Phase 1 of the project (1995-1998)
The field work of the first phase of the project was implemented by E. BRUNOTTE and H. SANDER with the assistance of students. The major spatial and thematic topics included:

  1. Investigating the pattern of natural regions based on the distribution of relief units, debris-mantles and soils (following sections from the rim of the Namib to Ovamboland).
  2. Investigating the effects of the longstanding pastoral nomadism in loess-covered basins of central Kaokoland (Opuwo, Omungunda), 
  3. Investigating in detail the floodplains with their fine sediments and the river bed patterns in the Kunene valley as a potential immigration guideline, 
  4. The proof of the interrelations amongst over-use, degradation and changes of land-use in Omuhonga (northern Kaokoland) in close co-operation with botanists and ethnologists. 

Phase 2 and 3 of the project (1998-2004)
In continuation of the sections mentioned above, the present investigations focus on regions of supplementary pasture and regions of temporary retreat. With special focus on the aspect of shifting desert margins.

  1. K. HARTMANN works on the rim of the Namib including the Marienfluß valley and the Hartmann valley
  2. The south and the west rim of Kaokoland north of the Hoanib river (the region of Sesfontein and Puros) represents another area of major interest (O. BÖDEKER). He finished his investigations in 2004 with the PhD-Thesis Sedimentological and geochronological investigations to reconstruct late quaternary landscape- and climatic changes in southwestern Kaokoland (NW-Namibia)
  3. The investigation of colluvial sediments and soils of the major landscapes of Kaokoland is continued by E. BRUNOTTE and students.


Phase 4 of the project (2005)
K. HARTMANN finishes her PhD-Thesis Geomorphological, sedimentological and geochronological investigations to reconstruct the landscape evolution and the climatic changes on the eastern rim of the Namib Desert in northwestern Kaokoland (Hartmanns Valley and Marienfluss Valley, Namibia).



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