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Terrestrial System Response to Last Glacial North Atlantic Climate Oscillations – A new high-resolution Loess-Palaesol Sequence (LPS) from the Schwalbenberg Site (Middle Rhine Valley, Germany)

Abstract

In Europe, loess deposits extend from the maritime North Atlantic-influenced climatic zone of northwest Europe, to the Mediterranean-influenced southeast and the thick deposits influenced by Eurasian continental climate in the east. Central Europe sits at the core of these deposits; its location has ensured variable influence through time by both maritime and continental climate subsystems, as well as experiencing strong climatic gradients between glaciated areas in the north, and the Alps and the Mediterranean in the south. In this context, the Schwalbenberg site in the Middle Rhine valley of Germany (fig. 1) is a key area for understanding terrestrial system responses to North Atlantic climate oscillations within the western part of Central Europe.

Previous studies of the Schwalbenberg II section sampled at an outcrop (fig. 1) indicate the loess deposits to be particularly thick, thereby providing especially high resolution over the interpleniglacial period (MIS 3) (most recently Schirmer, 2012; Schirmer et al., 2012; Klasen et al., 2015, Profe et al., 2016). This evidence is based on the correlation of total organic carbon content (TOC) with the δ18O composition of the GISP 2 ice core (Schirmer, 2012) and correlation of the weathering index with the GRIP Summit ice core (Schirmer et al., 2012). While these correlative results are promising, they were not in agreement with the luminescence dating chronology of Frechen and Schirmer (2011) from the same site. Klasen et al. (2015), using quartz and feldspar dating from a nearby sediment core (REM 1), likewise observed significant age discrepancies for the lower part of the sequence. In this case the discrepancies were most likely caused by thermally unstable components in the quartz OSL signal. Geochemical analyses based on X-ray fluorescence (XRF) showed that observed variability in luminescence behaviour down-profile is accompanied by a changing geochemical composition.

The Schwalbenberg is furthermore of particular importance to human prehistory. A Palaeolithic site was discovered on the southeastern slopes in the late 1970s (fig. 1). The archaeological site was dated to late MIS 3 using radiocarbon on molluscs and TL on sediments (App et al., 1995; Pasda, 2000). Since the stone tool assemblage suggests the site to correspond to the transition from Middle to Upper Palaeolithic, and the Schwalbenberg preserves some of the highest resolution MIS 3 sedimentary archives in Central Europe, the site is highly significant for shedding light on the nature of human-environmental interactions at the time of arrival of modern humans onto the continent.

Based on the state of the art, we conducted geophysical measurements to characterise the loess deposits in three dimensions and so to identify the point of thickest deposits, from which we undertook a core (REM 3A) aiming to increase the resolution of the archive. Results of geophysical investigations and first analytical data of this core form the basis of this contribution showing the great potential of the Schwalbenberg LPS towards a better understanding of terrestrial system response to last Glacial climate oscillations.

Bibliography

Fischer, P., Vinnepand, M., Fitzsimmons, K., Vött, A., Hambach, U., Jöris, O., Schulte, P., Klasen, N., Lehmkuhl, F. (2017): Terrestrial System Response to Last Glacial North Atlantic Climate Oscillations – A new high-resolution Loess-Palaesol Sequence (LPS) from the Schwalbenberg Site (Middle Rhine Valley, Germany). 4th Central European Geomorphology Conference, 9.-11.10.2017, Bayreuth, Germany

Authors Fischer, Peter and Vinnepand, Mathias and Fitzsimmons, Kathryn and Vött, Andreas and Hambach, Ulrich and Jöris, Olaf and Schulte, Philipp and Klasen, Nicole and Lehmkuhl, Frank
Type poster
Title Terrestrial System Response to Last Glacial North Atlantic Climate Oscillations – A new high-resolution Loess-Palaesol Sequence (LPS) from the Schwalbenberg Site (Middle Rhine Valley, Germany)
Year 2017
Address Bayreuth, Germany
Organization 4th Central European Geomorphology Conference, 9.-11.10.2017
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