MORPHOMETRIC TERRAIN ANALYSIS TO EXPLORE PRESENT DAY GEOHAZARDS AND PALEOLANDSCAPE FORMS AND FEATURES IN THE SURROUNDINGS OF THE MELKA KUNTURE PREHISTORIC SITE, UPPER AWASH VALLEY, CENTRAL ETHIOPIA

  • Michael Maerker Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’Ambiente, University of Pavia, Italy; Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany
  • Calogero Schillaci Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany
  • Jan Kropáček Department of Applied Geoinformatics and Spatial Planning, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic
Keywords: Melka Kunture, palaeolithic sites, Upper Awash Valley, morphometric analysis, digital elevation models, storm flow model

Abstract

Morphometric Terrain Analysis was successfully applied in different sectors of environmental studies. However, other disciplines, such as archaeology, might also profit from spatially distributed high-resolution terrain information. In this paper, we show how detailed topographic analysis and simple hydrological modelling approaches help to explain complex terrain pattern and to assess geohazards affecting archaeological sites. We show that Melka Kunture, a cluster of Pleistocene sites in the Upper Awash valley of Ethiopia, is affected by flooding and erosion/sedimentation processes. Moreover, we identified paleo-landscape features, such as changes in drainage pattern and evidences of tectonic activity. The topographic indices indicate especially a different paleo-drainage pattern with a lake or palustrine environment in the upstream areas. Furthermore, a different drainage of the paleo-lake via the Atabella tributary is likely and might be also stressed by the dimensions of the lower Atabella valley with quite large cross sections not corresponding to the present-day drainage situation.

Published
2018-05-18
Section
Original Articles