Late-quaternary environmental change at Eastbourne, East Sussex

Jennings, Simon C. (1985) Late-quaternary environmental change at Eastbourne, East Sussex. Doctoral thesis, Polytechnic of North London.


This study is an examination of the late-Quaternary palaeoenvironments of the Eastbourne area, The principal techniques employed are pollen, Foraminifera, Ostracoda, Mollusca and sediment particle size analyses. The lithostratigraphic investigation, using hand auger and a commercial drilling rig, revealed extensive unconsolidated sediments down to a maximum depth of 33m. which consist of gravels, sand, silt and clay with restricted peat development.

The history of the vegetation has been traced back to the Lateglacial when, it is argued, an unusually thermophilous community which included Alfids prospered. The early Flandrian vegetation was dominated by Corylus and Pinus the latter genus being replaced by members of the 'Mixed-Oak Forest' before 8,770 plus or minus 50 B.P. Prior to this date, Juniperus expanded. The nature of the mid-Flandrian vegetation is unclear due to the presence of secondary pollen. However, this secondary pollen has been used to provide information on the nature of sedimentation on Willingdon Levels. In addition, a model of pollen transfer in estuarine sediments is proposed. Poor pollen preservation has allowed an examination of pollen deterioration and its possible use for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction to be attempted. The late-Flandrian vegetation reveals the impact of both anthropogenic factors and coastal changes.

The pattern of Flandrian coastal/sea-level change has been reconstructed through an examination of transgressive and regressive contacts and overlaps and their associated biostratigraphies. In addition to two contacts, three phases of positive dominant tendency and two phases of negative dominant tendency of relative sea-level movement are recognised. It is argued that the coastal sediments at Eastbourne are probably the result of the growth and over-running of depositional features superimposed upon the main Flandrian rise in sea-level, rather than reflecting eustatic oscillations.

The pattern of sedimentation and the vegetation successions are placed within a regional context, and then combined to produce a model of landscape evolution for the late-Quaternary at Eastbourne.

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