Skip to main content Accessibility help

Late Holocene glacial and periglacial evolution in the upper Orco Valley, northwestern Italian Alps

  • Carlo Giraudi


The sediments present in some areas of the Orco Valley provide indications on climatic variations that occurred during the last 6000 years on the southern slopes of the Alps. In particular, distribution and ages of peat layers help define periods and extent of glacial fluctuation in the last 2200 years. Sampling of soils involved in periglacial processes provided a basis for development of a chronological framework of late Holocene environmental change. The data indicate a trend toward cooler climate in the second half of the Holocene. A strong relationship exists between phases of River Po flooding and expansion/retreat phases of the Swiss glaciers: major glacial advances were coeval with periods of intense flooding of the River Po, whereas the phases of glacial retreat coincided with periods of little flooding of the Po. Only in three cases do relationships between glacier activity and floods show weak correlations; two of the cases relate to the warmest periods in approximately the last 2200 years, while the third is the present period. Paleoclimatic evidence from the study region indicates the relatively warm Roman Period between about 2200 and 1900 cal yr BP appears to better represent modern conditions than does the Medieval Warm Period.


Corresponding author

*Fax: +39 0630486678. Email Address:


Hide All
Armando, E., Baroni, C., Meneghel, M., and Zanon, G. Relazioni della campagna glaciologica 2003. Geografia Fisica e Dinamica Quaternaria 27, 2 (2004). 167225.
Baroni, C., and Carton, A. Vedretta di Pisgrana (Gruppo dell'Adamello). Geomorfologia e variazioni oloceniche della fronte. Natura Bresciana, Annali Museo Civico Scienze Naturali Brescia, 26, (1991). 109115.
Camuffo, D., and Enzi, S. Climatic features during the Spörer and Maunder Minima. Franzel, B. Special Issue: ESF Project “European Palaeoclimate and Man”. Paläoklimaforschung-Palaeoclimate Research 16, (1995). 106124.
Caramiello, R., Siniscalco, C., Potenza, A., Mercalli, L., Allegri, L., Manfri, L., and Proposito, A. Pollen analysis and radiocarbon dating of a peatbog (Pian di Nel, 2256 m) in Orco Valley, Western Alps, Italy. Il Quaternario-Italian Journal of Quaternary Science 7, 1 (1994). 91102.
Calderoni, G., Guglielmin, M., and Tellini, C. Radiocarbon dating and postglacial evolution, Upper Valtellina and Livignese area (Sondrio, Central Italian Alps). Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 9, (1998). 275284.
Deline, P., and Orombelli, G. Glacier fluctuations in the western Alps during the Neoglacial, as indicated by the Miage morainic amphiteatre (Mont Blanc massif, Italy). Boreas 34, (2005). 456467.
Geyh, M.A., Benzler, J.H., and Roeschmann, G. Problems of dating Pleistocene and Holocene soils by radiometric methods. Yaalon, D.H. Paleopedology: Origin, Nature and Dating of Paleosols”. (1971). Israel Universities Press, Jerusalem. 6375.
Geyh, M.A., Rõetlisberger, F., and Gellatly, A. Reliability tests and interpretation of 14C dates from paleosols in glacier environments. Zeitschrift für Gletschekundes und Glazialgeologie 21, (1985). 275281.
Giraudi, C. Late Holocene alluvial events in the Central Apennines (Italy). The Holocene 15, 5 (2005). 769774.
Giraudi, C. Middle to Late Holocene glacial variations, periglacial processes and alluvial sedimentation on the higher Apennine massifs (Italy). Quaternary Research 64, (2005). 176184.
Hoefer, H. Die relative Lage der Firnlinie. Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen 68, (1922). 57 pp
Holzhauser, H., Magny, M., and Zumbühl, H.J. Glacier and lake-level variations in west-central Europe over the last 3500 years. The Holocene 15, 6 (2005). 789801.
Joerin, U.E., Stocker, T.F., and Schlüchter, C. Multicentury glacier fluctuations in the Swiss Alps during the Holocene. The Holocene 16, 5 (2006). 697704.
Magny, M. Holocene climatic variability as reflected by mid-European lake-level fluctuations, and its probable impact on prehistoric human settlements. Quaternary International 113, (2004). 6579.
Matthews, J.A. Radicarbon dating of buried soils with particular reference to Holocene solifluction. Solifluction and Climatic Variation in the Holocene. Paläoklimaforschung-Palaeoclimate Research 11, (1993). 309324.
Mattirolo, E., Novarese, V., Franchi, S., and Stella, A. Foglio 41, Gran Paradiso, della Carta Geologica d'Italia a scala 1:100.000. (1910). Servizio Geologico d'Italia,
Mercalli, L., and Cat Berro, D. L'evento alluvionale del 13–17 Ottobre 2000 nel bacino del Po: analisi pluviometrica. Nimbus, Anno IV 3–4, (2001). 3340.
Mortara, G., Orombelli, G., Pelfini, M., and Tellini, C. Suoli e suoli sepolti olocenici per la datazione di eventi geomorfologici in ambiente alpino: alcuni esempi tratti da indagini preliminari in Val d'Aosta. Il Quaternario-Italian Journal of Quaternary Sciences 5, 2 (1992). 135148.
Orombelli, G., and Pelfini, M. Una fase di avanzata glaciale nell'Olocene superiore, precedente alla Piccola Glaciazione, nelle Alpi Central. Rendiconti Società Geologica Italiana 8, (1985). 1720.
Orombelli, G., and Mason, P. Holocene glacier fluctuations in the Italian alpine region. Glacier Fluctuation during the Holocene. Paläoklimaforschung-Palaeoclimate Research 24, (1997). 5965.
Scharpenseel, H.W., and Schiffmann, H. Soil radiocarbon analysis and soil dating. Geophysical Survey 3, (1977). 143158.
Stuiver, M., Reimer, P.J., Bard, E., Beck, W.J., Burr, G.S., Hughen, K.A., Kromer, B., McCormac, G., van der Plicht, J., and Spurk, M. INTCAL98 radiocarbon age calibration, 24,000–0 cal BP. Radiocarbon 40, 3 (1998). 10411083.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed