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Millennial-scale terrestrial ecosystem responses to Upper Pleistocene climatic changes: 4D-reconstruction of the Schwalbenberg Loess-Palaeosol-Sequence (Middle Rhine Valley, Germany)

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Fitzsimmons,  Kathryn E.
Terrestrial Palaeoclimates, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Prud'homme,  Charlotte
Terrestrial Palaeoclimates, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Peric,  Zoran
Climate Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Fischer, P., Jöris, O., Fitzsimmons, K. E., Vinnepand, M., Prud'homme, C., Schulte, P., et al. (2021). Millennial-scale terrestrial ecosystem responses to Upper Pleistocene climatic changes: 4D-reconstruction of the Schwalbenberg Loess-Palaeosol-Sequence (Middle Rhine Valley, Germany). Catena, 196: 104913. doi:10.1016/j.catena.2020.104913.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-7C75-B
Abstract
Loess-Palaeosol-Sequences (LPS) in the Central European region provide outstanding terrestrial polygenetic and multiphase archives responding to past climate and environments over various spatial and temporal scales. As yet, however, the geomorphological and pedogenic processes involved in LPS formation, and their interplay with changes in ecological conditions, impede robust correlation with other palaeoenvironmental archives. The Schwalbenberg LPS, which drape a hillslope in the Middle Rhine Valley in western Central Europe, provide unique high-resolution records highly suitable for investigating the processes involved in their formation and the relationship to climatic influences during the Upper Pleistocene. Here we present the first comprehensive multi-proxy dataset for the Schwalbenberg LPS over four dimensions. We undertake systematic analyses along a representative slope transect using surface-based geophysical prospection in combination with Direct Push hydraulic profiling to characterise the subsurface stratigraphy in detail. We integrate selected sedimentological and geochemical proxy data from three long sediment cores and two profile sections to build a complete stratigraphical succession for the Schwalbenberg LPS. We show that the transect approach allows quantification of different formation phases, whether accumulative, erosive or pedogenic in character. In so doing we overcome the bias inherent in studies of individual sections and enable robust and reliable correlation with other climate archives. For the time interval ~ 80–15 ka BP correlation of combined lithostratigraphic features and organic carbon contents from Schwalbenberg with the Sofular and NGRIP δ18O-records can be established at millennial to centennial scale resolution, highlighting the sensitivity of western European LPS to the Atlantic-driven climate oscillations in much more detail than in any other terrestrial archive known in the region so far.