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Title: Late Pleistocene and Holocene palaeoenvironments in and around the middle Caspian basin as reconstructed from a deep-sea core
Authors: Leroy, SAG
López-Merino, L
Tudryn, A
Chalié, F
Gasse, F
Keywords: Caspian Sea;Dinocysts;Holocene;Lake level fluctuation;Late Pleistocene;Pollen;Salinity;Vegetation history
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Citation: Quaternary Science Reviews, 101, 91 - 110, 2014
Abstract: Late Pleistocene and/or Holocene high-resolution palynological studies are available for the south basin of the Caspian Sea (CS), the world's largest lake. However, the north and middle basins have not been the object of high-resolution palynological reconstructions. This new study presents the pollen, spores and dinoflagellate cysts records obtained from a 10m-long sediment core recovered in the middle basin, which currently has brackish waters and is surrounded by arid and semi-arid vegetation.An age-depth model built based on six radiocarbon dates on ostracod shells indicates that the sequence spans the period from 14.47 to 2.43cal.kaBP. The present palaeoenvironmental study focuses on the top 666cm, or from 12.44 to 2.43cal.kaBP.At the vegetation level, the Younger Dryas is characterised by an open landscape dominated by desert vegetation composed by Amaranthaceae with shrubs and salt-tolerant plants. However, although the Early Holocene is also characterised by desert vegetation, it is enriched in various shrubs such as Ephedra and Calligonum, but tree expansion is not important at the Holocene onset. After a major shift at 8.19cal.kaBP, the Middle Holocene displays now both the character of desert and of steppe, although some trees such as Quercus and Corylus slightly spread. The Late Holocene records steppe vegetation as dominant, with more tree diversity.Regarding the lacustrine signal, the dinocyst assemblage record fluctuates between slightly brackish conditions highlighted by Pyxidinopsis psilata and Spiniferites cruciformis, and more brackish ones - similar to the present day - with the dominance of Impagidinium caspienense. The Late Pleistocene is characterised by low salinities, related to the Khvalynian highstand. From 11.56cal.kaBP, slightly more saline waters are reconstructed with an increase of I.caspienense for a period of 1000 years, which could be attributed to the Mangyshlak lowstand. From 10.55cal.kaBP, low salinity conditions return with remains such as Anabaena and Botryococcus abundant until 8.83cal.kaBP, followed by a slow, progressive decrease of P. psilata and S. cruciformis until 4.11cal.kaBP, which is the main assemblage change at lacustrine scale. Since then, higher salinities, similar to the present one, are reconstructed. Finally, Lingulodinium machaerophorum starts its development only at 2.75cal.kaBP, in the Late Holocene.The present research revealed fundamental differences from previously published sea-level curves, in that a 6000yr-long highstand suggested by low salinities is shown between 10.55 and 4.11cal.kaBP. Amongst other arguments, using a comparison to a similar palynological regard but in the south basin, a N-S salinity gradient that is the reverse of the present one across the CS, suggests that the Amu Darya was flowing in the CS. Hence the CS levels during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene were influenced by a combination of precipitation over the high European latitudes and the indirect influence of the Indian summer monsoon over the Pamirs. © 2014.
Description: This article has been made available through Open Access by the Brunel Open Access Publishing Fund.
ISSN: 0277-3791
Appears in Collections:Brunel OA Publishing Fund
Institute for the Environment

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