Dr. Hayley Cawthra

Dr. Hayley Cawthra

Chief Scientist at the Council for Geoscience (CGS)

Western Cape regional office


Hayley Cawthra holds the position of Chief Scientist at the Council for Geoscience (CGS) Western Cape regional office, where she leads the marine geoscience programme, and is a Research Associate in Nelson Mandela University’s African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience. She has over fifteen years of work experience at the CGS in the acquisition, processing and interpretation of geological and hydroacoustic data and is a qualified commercial diver. Hayley has specific research interests in Pleistocene sea-level change and reconstructing now-submerged terrestrial landscapes on the continental shelf, particularly in a context of ancient human use of coasts. This is done by coastal- and offshore mapping, and studying markers of palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic change over time. Hayley has led or been a co-investigator on several local and international projects, all with a focus on South African records. Most of her work in this regard has been carried out on the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain on the Cape South Coast, and in Mpondoland on the East Coast.

Hayley holds a Ph.D. in geological science from the University of Cape Town (awarded in 2014) and was a visiting post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bremen Centre for Marine Environmental Sciences in 2016. She was a junior fellow of the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg in Germany from 2017-2019, has published 79 papers in peer-reviewed journals of acceptable repute within the last ten years in the field area of marine geology, and her work has received almost 1200 citations to date.

Hayley serves on several professional committees and panels and some examples are holding the position of Chair of the South African Committee for Stratigraphy task group for Post-Karoo stratigraphy and being vice president of the Southern African Society for Quaternary Research. She is a steering committee member of the South African Extended Continental Shelf Claim Project and a technical advisor on the South African delegation to the United Nations’ International Seabed Authority. Hayley is a Fellow of the Geological Society of South Africa and is an NRF rated scientist. She also has interest in geoheritage and geoscience education and has worked on several initiatives in this regard, including being part of a team that has produced three ‘Science Spaza’ comics for school-level learners.

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