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Audio story Katrien Vervaele

The Testerep peninsula and its demise touches many: guides, theatre makers, journalists, coastal inhabitants ... It also inspired Katrien Vervaele, author and coastal lover with a big 'C'. Katrien was eager to write a book about this medieval drama and wanted to take the necessary time to do so. Unfortunately, she was not granted that luxury, and embraced the limited time she had left to write a haunting short story, starring Testerep and its inhabitants. 

Her friend Nancy Zwaenepoel transformed the text into a breathtaking audio story. The agreement was to publish it only after Katrien's passing.

The result: a tribute to Katrien, an audio story diving into the mysteries of our coast, a story of connection. Listen for yourself! 

With music from 'The Drowned Ballads of Testerep' by TG Vagevuur, composed by Peter Spaepen and performed by Elisabeth De Loore on the piano. Audio story edited by Bart De Smet (VLIZ) as part of the project 'Testerep: 5000 years of coastal evolution'.

Listen to the story on Soundcloud (in dutch)



The microworld of Testerep

Information about the evolution and demise of Testerep can be found in unexpected places. One of the most important sources of information is the microworld of Testerep. Not only (remains of) small organisms in the sediment are a treasure trove of information, but also the sediment itself can tell us a lot.

Last week, geologists from the VLIZ conducted intensive research on more than 100 soil samples taken from the Testerep survey area. They analysed the grain size of the sediment using a device developed specifically for particle analysis (MALVERN mastersizer 3000).

The grain size is very important information for hydrogeological modelling. In turn, these models will give us more insight on how Testerep possibly drowned.


 First recordings for the Testerep documentary

Last week, the first footage was made for the upcoming Testerep documentary. The camera crew joined our team’s latest offshore survey. They filmed the different activities on board, such as corings and seismics.

The documentary will give an insight into the different scientific aspects of the project and how they all come together to tell the story of Testerep's evolution.

The documentary was made possible through the support of the VUB and the DOCVILLE filmfestival.


Read more about DOCVILLE


Testerep at the XXI INQUA 2023 Congress, Rome

In July, the Testerep project participated in the XXI INQUA 2023 Congress in Rome, Italy. This allowed us to present the project and first results to an audience of experts from diverse disciplines within Quaternary research. It was also a great opportunity for networking, keeping our project up to date with the latest developments and catching up with a number of existing collaborators and colleagues.

Learn more about INQUA


Testerep team visiting the Drowned land of Saeftinghe.

To experience what our coast used to look like in the past when it was still a natural tidal landscape, team Testerep recently went hiking through the gullies, mudflats and saltmarshes of the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe. A very pleasant albeit very muddy adventure!


Foraminifers as a tool to reconstruct Testerep

Have you ever heard of foraminifers? And do you know why they can play an important role in Testerep reconstruction? Well, foraminifers are unicellular organisms with an external calciumcarbonate skeleton (also called test) found in salt water. When the organism dies, over time only the calcareous skeleton remains. Buried under a layer of sediment, these skeletons can preserve in the sea floor for a very long time. By taking a core from the sea floor and then studying the remains of the foraminifers, we get a better idea of the conditions under which the sediment was deposited at the time. This in turn then helps reconstruct the partially drowned Testerep peninsula through time.

Last month, one of the VLIZ researchers attended an intensive workshop on foraminifers in Urbino, Italy. The knowledge gained will be of great help in studying the sampled seafloor cores. Furthermore, the workshop also provided new insights, interdisciplinary collaborations and networking opportunities, which will be very valuable for further research within the project.

More about the International School on Foraminifera


Researchers and filmmaker win documentary about Testerep project

The Testerep project is one of the two winners of the Scienceville part of the DOCVILLE festival. The festival's explicit aim is to produce two documentary authors with international ambitions that prove that a short documentary can be equally valuable in terms of content and artistic value. With the project, DOCVILLE commits itself, with the cooperation of the VUB, to supporting Flemish scientific documentaries and to contribute to the further development of the genre. The entire Testerep team will collaborate with filmmaker Vincent Langouche and use the prize money of 80,000 euros to make a documentary about the partly submerged peninsula off our coast. The interesting contrast between the historical aspect of the story and contemporary high-tech research forms the starting point.

The winning documentaries will premiere at the next edition of DOCVILLE between 20 and 28 March 2024.

 Read more VUB press release


Save Testerep from destruction in new online game

Twelve students of the game course Digital Arts and Entertainment at the Howest in Kortrijk bring the story of Testerep to life using a self-developed online game. In the game 'Testerep New Beginnings' you have to collect resources yourself, build a new settlement and protect your city against the advancing water with dikes. The goal is to survive 30 days and save Testerep from destruction. Only then can you win the game.

Download and play the game for free

Watch the trailer here











Testerep exhibition subject of 3rd stakeholder meeting

On March 23 2023, the 3rd stakeholder meeting of the Testerep project took place. During this meeting the various stakeholders discussed the planned exhibition and derived initiatives such as a digital walk or bike ride. After a brief state of affairs by the 4 research partners, VUB, VLIZ, KU Leuven and Howest DAE, the Province of West Flanders presented the first preliminary actions and plans regarding a temporary/traveling exhibition. With this background information, the stakeholders and partners started thinking about the further elaboration and interpretation of this valorization project during an interactive session.


Testerep offshore winter survey

From 6-10 March 2023, the TESTEREP team joined forces with our colleagues of the SUSANA team. Both projects require vibrocore samples to be taken and seismic data to be acquired across the Belgian Continental Shelf, so we decided to help each other in an attempt to be more efficient. Unlike our previous coring surveys, when we were blessed with calm seas and blue skies, this survey proved somewhat more challenging. We even had some snow! Nevertheless, we successfully managed to deploy our new vibrocoring system and have added 11 new vibrocores to the TESTEREP archive.

Learn how scientists collect vibrocores at sea

More images of the survey


Living lab Raversijde unveiled

On February 1, 2023, it was 70 years ago that the North Sea coasts of Belgium, the United Kingdom and especially the Netherlands were ravaged by the major flood disaster of 1953. In the search for better coastal protection measures that ensued, a new chapter is now being written for the Belgian coast with the official start of Living Lab Raversijde. Using a research dike that measures wave overtopping and a test setup with dunes in front of the dike, data are being collected on the beach at Raversijde to make our coastal defenses more efficient in the future. Testerep project partners VLIZ, Flanders Hydraulics Research and KU Leuven are also involved in the project.

The North Sea flood of 1953 in color

The launch of Living Lab Raversijde


Testerep dated with the use of OSL

A crucial element for retracing the Testerep story is obtaining accurate dates for different phases in the evolution of the coastal landscape. One of the state-of-the-art techniques we are using to shed light on this matter is the dating and profiling of sediment samples with Optically Stimulated Luminescence or OSL. Expert dr. Tim Kinnaird from the University of St Andrews in Scotland visited VLIZ on 26 and 27 January to sample and analyze marine cores from the Stroombank with a portable OSL device. Because the samples had to stay shielded from daylight, the research was carried out in a WWII bunker, specifically adapted for this purpose.

Read more about OSL


Testerep presented at an international workshop

On 17 and 18 January 2023, an international workshop on ‘Geoarchaeological reconstructions of Holocene coastal landscapes along the North Sea’ took place in the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, organized by the archaeological service Raakvlak, the PROSPECT international thematic network and the High Tide – Low Tide CRA of Ghent University. It offered an ideal opportunity to present the Testerep project to both Belgian and international colleagues who are carrying out similar research and to exchange ideas. After a first day of lectures, a series of practical training sessions followed on day two, where we were able to further improve our skills in describing, interpreting and sampling coastal sediment cores. An inspiring two days!

Read more


Crash course on Testerep with the podcast of the University of Flanders

Episode 496 of the University of Flanders podcast is entirely devoted to the long term evolution of our coast. Landscape archaeologist Dr. Soetkin Vervust (VUB) explains the research conducted within the Testerep project and its importance. Why did large parts of what was then the Testerep Peninsula disappear under the waves? Was it due to rising sea levels or did humans have something to do with it? And will our coastal cities soon follow as the world warms?



Premiere theatorshow: "De Verdronken Ballades van TESTEREP” on December second 2022.

“De Verdronken Ballades van TESTEREP” will premiere on December 2, 2022 in CC De Grote Post. Experience the end of Testerep like never before! Five actors and musicians sing and play their hearts out to keep the island of Testerep above water. Each performance evening is determined by the audience: a new combination of songs and scenes, which come together in a finale. So don't miss this spectacle!



Citizen science at the heart of the second stakeholder meeting.

On October 21, 2022, the second stakeholder meeting of the Testerep project took place. The central theme of this meeting was citizen science. After a brief overview by the project partners, three experts each proposed a different citizen science trajectory linked to project Testerep: 'CoastSnap', 'Amateur metal detection' and 'Historical research'. In the subsequent interactive moment, stakeholders, project partners and interested parties exchanged ideas about the various citizen science initiatives. The results of this brainstorming will be included in furthering the different initiatives.


Testerep mapped using a magnetic survey.

Last week 360survey mapped the area of the former Testerep peninsula on behalf of VLIZ. They did this using magnetic measurements of the seabed. Magnetic measurements enable researchers to distinguish and map sedimentary structures based on differing responses. The survey took place near the coastline between Ostend and Nieuwpoort, focussing on the historic site of Raversijde and the old Yser estuary.

Read more about 360 survey


Testerep introduced to international scientific community

Last week, the Testerep project was presented to an international audience for the first time. During the 3rd International NEPTUNE workshop, members of our team, with funding from INQUA CMP, were able to present the story of Testerep to several international colleagues and experts. The workshop aims to introduce young scientists to multidisciplinary techniques for the analysis and reconstruction of drowned ancient landscapes.

Read more about the NEPTUNE workshop.


The Testerep team digs up ancient dikes in Westende and Raversijde

Archaeologists of the Testerep team recently uncovered two historic dikes in Westende and Raversijde. These excavations give us further information about the historical settlements and population of Testerep. Furthermore, information obtained from these excavations can be used to reconstruct the historical onshore Testerep landscape.

read more


Be part of this unique theatrical and musical procession!

Join, alone or in group, theater group Vagevuur in a unique theatrical and musical procession. Songs will be performed at set times and moments over a distance of 12 km, in order to bring Testerep back to life. The procession will take place in Ostend, Roeselare, Ghent, Brussels and Leuven. Be sure not to miss this spectacle!

More information and registrations


VLIZ researchers collect drill cores and seismic information at sea.

For the second time this year, researchers from the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) came ashore with cores and seismic data from the drowned area of the Testerep peninsula. During a targeted campaign of four days, between Ostend and Nieuwpoort, the scientists collected 25 drill cores and more than 45 km of seismic traces. These, after analysis, will provide important information about the history of Testerep


VUB team looking for traces of Testerep in the landscape.

Researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) recently visited the known and possible dikes of the former Testerep Peninsula. These dikes are usually still visible in the landscape in the shape of plot boundaries and roads, and sometimes also in the form of small differences in height. The purpose of the site visit was to identify suitable locations for sampling and other field work later this year.


Kayaking on the Testerepvliet

What better way for the Testerep team to uncover the mysteries of the former peninsula than to see the research area with their own eyes? While kayaking in the hinterland of Middelkerke, the team became acquainted with the remaining part of the tidal channel that once separated Testerep from the rest of Flanders. Back on shore, an exciting meeting followed where the partners discussed the progress of the project.

Get to know this beautiful and historic piece of nature yourself


Bring Testerep to life in a co-creation with the theater group Vagevuur.

In co-creation with both novice and more experienced writers, the theater group Vagevuur wants to bring Testerep's story to life. During the writing performance at Theater Aan Zee you will work together with professional writing coaches on stories and characters, which will serve as inspiration for the performance 'De Verdronken Ballades van TESTEREP'.

read more


The first cores of the Testerep project on board of the Simon Stevin

On June 9, 2022, we brought the first cores from the Testerep project on board the Simon Stevin. These cores are taken at specific locations along a seismic survey. This gives us an idea of which sediments correspond to a particular seismic signal. Furthermore, the collected sediments can provide us with important information about what the environment must have looked like in the past and we can start dating it.

read more about the techniques used


TG Vagevuur bring us "Verdronken Ballades van Testerep".

Five actors and musicians from TG Vagevuur sing and play their hearts out to keep the island of Testerep above water, singing fighting, with a massive decor.

 read more


The Testerep project was officially launched with the first stakeholder meeting

With a first successful stakeholder meeting, the SBO-FWO project Testerep: 5000 years of coastal evolution has now completely started. The meeting started with a short presentation of the project partners and their contribution to the project. The VUB (Maritime Cultures Research Institute) and VLIZ (Seascapes Past and Future) outlined the historical context of the Testerep peninsula, explained the scientific research carried out earlier and indicated the research objectives of the project.
KULeuven (Hydraulics and Geotechnics) clarified how they will model the demise of Testerep, while HOWest (Digital Arts & Entertainment) showed how they will bring Testerep back to life through visualizations and simulations.
The second part of the stakeholder meeting zoomed in on the important social finality of the project. The planned valorisation trajectories, such as an extension of the citizen science initiative 'Coastsnap' and a traveling exhibition, were discussed. The meeting ended with an interactive session in which the various stakeholders discussed their contribution to and ideas about the project.



Podcast 'Hoeveroute' of the City of Ostend halts at Testerep

How do present-day Ostend and the drowned peninsula of Testerep relate to each other? And what role did the rising sea level play in the disappearance of medieval Ostend? You can hear this and many more stories in the podcast of the City of Ostend as a result of the new bike route Hoeveroute.

read more