Terrestrial response to abrupt climate changes during the Late Quaternary in Southern Spain

Claire Gallant

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The Mediterranean region is located on a climatic boundary between arid North Africa and temperate Europe and lies proximal to the North Atlantic. As such, the region is thought to have been highly sensitive to past climate changes, and is predicted to be acutely sensitive to future changes. The impact of both glacial/interglacial and stadial/interstadial climate shifts have been identified within long pollen records of the eastern Mediterranean and western Mediterranean marine sequences. However, our understanding of the impact of these changes within terrestrial settings is relatively poor with little understanding of either the scale or rapidity of response.
This thesis presents sedimentological, geochemical, micromorphological and isotopic data from three previously unidentified loess-palaeosol sequences within southern Spain; covering MIS 5, MIS 2 and MIS 1. Bulk sedimentological data from each site is presented within a chronological framework provided by OSL dating. Additionally, results from micromorphological analysis of sediments and oxygen and carbon isotopic composition of secondary carbonates are presented for each site.
The thesis provides discussion of:
1. The description and recognition of loess within southern Spain, using bulk sedimentological properties, mineralogy (XRD) and isotopic composition (Sr/Nd).
2. Geomorphic response of the landscape to both Milankovitch and sub-Milankovitch timescales.
3. The use of oxygen and carbon isotopic composition of secondary carbonates to identify shifting temperatures and/or aridity through loess deposition and alteration.
Shifts in depositional environments and geomorphic processes recorded at each site identifies that the landsystem of southern Spain is highly responsive and capable of large scale changes on Milankovitch and sub-Milankovitch timescales. Contrary to current understanding loess in southern Spain is not exclusively a glacial phenomenon, nor is its provenance as straightforward as previously suggested. As such, existing literature regarding atmospheric processes and loess transport in the region during the last glacial appear over simplified.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Candy, Ian, Supervisor
  • Armitage, Simon, Supervisor
Award date1 Feb 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013

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