Geomorphology: Process and Landform Investigation Research Group

Goal and Purpose of the Research Group

The project aims to investigate geomorphic processes over several temporal and spatial scales. Thus the project aims to investigate geomorphic processes and the consequent genesis, maintenance and alteration of landforms. The project focuses both on laboratory work in the form of weathering simulations and experiments, as well as fieldwork through the survey, measurement and interpretations of landforms.

Key focuses of the Research Group

The focus of this group is to improve our understanding of geomorphic processes and landforms in predominantly the high-lying areas of southern Africa and sub-Antarctic Marion Island. This will be done in the context of climate change.

Current Projects or Research Questions

  • Aeolian processes and landforms on Marion Island
  • Needle-ice growth on sub-Antarctic Marion Island: environmental triggers
  • Sub-marine geomorphology of sub-Antarctic Marion Island: implications for terrestrial glacial reconstructions
  • Pronival ramparts in southern Africa: palaeo-environmental significance for the Late Quaternary
  • Aeolian processes and landforms on Round Island, Mauritius
  • Rock weathering rates at Vesleskarvet, Antarctica: a 5-year rock mass loss experiment.

Research Projects in the Research Group

Thermal Stress simulations: implications for weathering studies

The project will focus on simulating thermal stresses on various lithologies of rocks to determine if these lithologies are susceptible in terms of rock decay (weathering) to changes of temperature which exceed the threshold of > 2°C min-1. The study will also determine if the methodology used by Richter & Simmons (1974), on which the threshold value of 2°C min-1 is based, is still appropriate or if it accuracy of this study was limited by the methodology and equipment employed in the study.

This research project will require extensive laboratory-based research at the Unisa Florida Campus.


Bentley, M.J., Cofaigh, C.Ó., Anderson, J.B., Conway, H., Davies, B., Graham, A.G.C., Hillenbrand, C.-D., Hodgson, D.A., Jamieson, S.S.R., Larter, R.D., Mackintosh, A., Smith, J.A., Verleyen, E., Ackert, R.P., Bart, P.J., Berg, S., Drunstein, D., Canals, M., Colhoun, E.A., Crosta, X., Dickens, W.A., Domack, E., Dowdeswell, J.A., Dunbar, R., Ehrmann, W., Evans, J., Favier, V., Fink, D., Fogwill, C.J., Glasser, N.F., Gohl., K., Golledge, N.R., Goodwin, I., Gore, D.B., Greenwood, S.L., Hall, B.L., Hall, K., Hedding, D.W., Hein, A.S., Hocking, E.P., Jakobsson, M., Johnson, J.S., Jomelli, V., Jones, R.S., Klages, J.P., Kristoffersen, Y., Kuhn, G., Leventer, A., Licht, K., Lilly, K., Lindow., J., Livingstone, S.J., Massé, McGlone, M.S., McKay, R.M., Melles, M., Miura, H., Mulvaney, R., Nel, W., Nitsche, F.O., O’Brein, P.E., Post, A.L., Roberts, S.J., Saunders, K.M., Selkirk, P.M., Simms, A.R., Spiegel, C., Stolldorf, T.D., Sugden, D.E., van de Putten, N., van Ommen, T., Verfaillie, D., Vyverman, W., Wagener, B., White, D.A. Witus, A.E. Zwartz, D., 2014: A community-based geological reconstruction of Antarctic Ice Sheet deglaciation since the Last Glacial Maximum, Quaternary Science Reviews, 100, 1-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.06.025

Hodgson, D.A., Graham, A.G.C., Roberts, S.J., Bentley, M.J., Cofaigh, C.Ó., Verleyen, E., Vyverman, W., Jomelli, V., Favier, V., Brunstein, D., Verfaillie, D., Colhoun, E.A., Saunders, K.M., Selkirk, P.M., Mackintosh, A., Hedding, D.W., Nel, W., Hall, K., McGlone, M.S., Van der Putten, Dickens, W.A. and Smith, J.A., 2014: Terrestrial and submarine evidence for the extent and timing of the Last Glacial Maximum and the onset of deglaciation on the maritime-Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands, Quaternary Science Reviews, 100, 137-159. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.12.001

Hedding, D.W. and Sumner, P.D., 2013: Diagnostic criteria for pronival ramparts: site, morphological and sedimentological characteristics, Geografiska Annaler, Series A: Physical Geography, 95(4), 315-322. DOI: 10.1111/geoa.12021

Hedding, D.W., 2011: Pronival rampart and protalus rampart: a review of terminology, Journal of Glaciology, 57(206), 1179-1180. DOI: 10.3189/002214311798843241

Hedding, D.W., Meiklejohn, K.I., Le Roux, J.J., Loubser, M. and Davis J.K., 2010: Some observations on the formation of an active pronival rampart at Grunehogna Peaks, Western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 21(4), 355-361. DOI: 10.1002/ppp.698

Boelhouwers, J.C., Meiklejohn, I., Holness, S. and Hedding, D.W., 2008: Geology, Geomorphology and Climate Change. In Chown, S.L. and Froneman, W. (eds), The Prince Edward Islands: Land-Sea Interactions in a Changing Ecosystem. Sun Press, Stellenbosch, pp. 65–96.

Hedding, D.W., 2008: Spatial inventory of landforms in the recently exposed Central Highland of sub-Antarctic Marion Island, South African Geographical Journal, 90(1), 11-21. DOI: 10.1080/03736245.2008.9725307

Contact us

Should you require any further information please contact Dr DW Hedding at

Last modified: 2016/10/09