The formation and sedimentary infilling of the Limeworks Cave, Makapansgat, South Africa
Latham, Alfred G.
Herries, Andy I. R.
Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research
The remnant cavern of the Limeworks australopithecine site has a number of special features. Firstly, unlike Swartkrans and Sterkfontein, which developed in relatively flat relief, the Limeworks Cave developed as part of a mountain karst. Then upon abandonment by its formative river, there formeda unique, conjoined series of tall stalagmites and columns arranged in an irregular arc against the walls of the cavern. This arc had the effect of dividing up the space into a central volume and several lateral alcoves. The spaces were separated from each other, so that, when the cavern began to unroof, each came to be filled by its own surficial deposits or, in some cases, not at all. At only one level is it possible to show that a gap existed between two adjacent repositories so as to produce common, contemporaneous deposits. This turns out to be the hyena den layer known as the Grey Breccia, and a connection was made possible with the centre by spaces that existed at local roof level for a limited period. The Grey Breccia appears to be about contemporaneous with the white bone breccia at the back of the cavern, whereas the black bone breccia in theMain Quarry is slightly younger than these two. The recognition of distinctive depositional horizons has allowed us to reconstruct a stratigraphic section for all deposits from the known base to the known top on the western side of the site. This section can be used for magnetostratigraphic purposes to construct a firmer chronology that includes the Grey Breccia; but further work is required to tie in the eastern side.
Makapansgat, Australopithecus, Grey Breccia, stratigraphy.