Seascapes Past & Future | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Seascapes Past & Future

In recent years, there has been a rapidly growing interest and international cooperation in the study of drowned landscapes and geo-archaeology of the continental shelf. This new and challenging research field integrates the study of climate and sea level change, palaeogeography, geological mapping, prehistoric archaeology and human presence and migration routes in the North Sea - once mainly dry land but now largely buried below the seabed (cf. the Position Paper 21 of the European Marine Board Land Beneath the waves - submerged landscapes and sealevel change). VLIZ is one of the pioneers in Belgium and Europe of this interdisciplinary research field that combines exact sciences and humanities.

In the research topic Seascapes Past & Future we expand the geo-archaeological research in the North Sea in close cooperation with national and international research institutes. Via the reconstruction of drowned landscapes, VLIZ wants to investigate how the landscape of the southern and central North Sea evolved during the late Quaternary (roughly the last 150.000 years) and what remains of these landscapes, including traces of human presence.

High-tech research related to acoustic imaging of the sub-seafloor aims to spatially map and visualize buried (archaeological) structures and objects in the highest possible detail. A detailed exploration of the nearshore sub-bottom environment allows to characterise (shallow) deposits and biogenic gas and to track down how the coastline and coastal area evolved over the last 7000 years, what the effect of man was on this process and vice-versa.

People working on this topic

Related projects

  • TESTEREP project – Evolution of the Flemish seascape 5000 BP – present [meer] [website]
  • WALDO –  Where are All the (proglacial) Lake seDiments in the NOrth Sea Basin? [meer]
  • DISARM – Dumpsites of munitions: Integrated Science Approach to Risk and Management  [more]
  • BASTA – Dumped munition detection: Boost Applied munition detection through Smart data inTegration and AI workflows [more] - [website] - [abstract]
  • DEEP HISTORY – Paleolandscape research of the Southern/Central North Sea [more]
  • Paleolandscape research of the Scheur [more]


  • TESTEREP project: VUB (Maritime Cultures Research Institute), KU Leuven (Hydraulics and Geotechnics), Howest hogeschool (Digital Arts & Entertainment Research)
  • WALDO: Ghent University (RCMG)
  • DISARM: University of Antwerp (SPHERE), RBINS-OD Nature, Ghent University (GhEnToxLab, CMET and Hydrology), Royal Military Academy, Antwerp Maritime Academy
  • BASTA: GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, EGEOS GmbH, G-Tec SA
  • DEEP HISTORY: University of Bradford (UK), NIOZ, Deltares, TNO, Universiteit Gent (RCMG), University of Leeds (UK), University of Groningen, Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed (NL)
  • Paleolandscape research of the Scheur: RBINS-Paleontology, Ghent University (RCMG), Natural History Museum of Rotterdam