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7000 years of paleostorm activity in the NW Mediterranean Sea in response to Holocene climate events

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Pierre Sabatier*
Université de Savoie, Laboratoire Environnement Dynamiques et Territoire de Montagne, CNRS, UMR 5204, Le Bourget du Lac, France Université Montpellier 2, Laboratoire Geosciences Montpellier, CNRS, UMR 5243, Montpellier, France
Laurent Dezileau
Université Montpellier 2, Laboratoire Geosciences Montpellier, CNRS, UMR 5243, Montpellier, France
Christophe Colin
Université Paris-Sud, Laboratoire des Interactions et de la Dynamique des Environnements de Surface, CNRS, UMR 8148, Orsay, France
Louis Briqueu
Université Montpellier 2, Laboratoire Geosciences Montpellier, CNRS, UMR 5243, Montpellier, France
Frédéric Bouchette
Université Montpellier 2, Laboratoire Geosciences Montpellier, CNRS, UMR 5243, Montpellier, France
Philippe Martinez
Université Bordeaux 1, Laboratoire des Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques, CNRS, UMR 5805, Bordeaux, France
Giuseppe Siani
Université Paris-Sud, Laboratoire des Interactions et de la Dynamique des Environnements de Surface, CNRS, UMR 8148, Orsay, France
Olivier Raynal
Université Montpellier 2, Laboratoire Geosciences Montpellier, CNRS, UMR 5243, Montpellier, France
Ulrich Von Grafenstein
Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, CNRS/CEA, Saclay, France
*Corresponding author at: Laboratoire EDYTEM, UMR 5204, CISM, Université de Savoie, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac Cedex, France. E-mail (P. Sabatier).


A high-resolution record of paleostorm events along the French Mediterranean coast over the past 7000 years was established from a lagoonal sediment core in the Gulf of Lions. Integrating grain size, faunal analysis, clay mineralogy and geochemistry data with a chronology derived from radiocarbon dating, we recorded seven periods of increased storm activity at 6300–6100, 5650–5400, 4400–4050, 3650–3200, 2800–2600, 1950–1400 and 400–50 cal yr BP (in the Little Ice Age). In contrast, our results show that the Medieval Climate Anomaly (1150–650 cal yr BP) was characterised by low storm activity.

The evidence for high storm activity in the NW Mediterranean Sea is in agreement with the changes in coastal hydrodynamics observed over the Eastern North Atlantic and seems to correspond to Holocene cooling in the North Atlantic. Periods of low SSTs there may have led to a stronger meridional temperature gradient and a southward migration of the westerlies. We hypothesise that the increase in storm activity during Holocene cold events over the North Atlantic and Mediterranean regions was probably due to an increase in the thermal gradient that led to an enhanced lower tropospheric baroclinicity over a large Central Atlantic-European domain.

Original Articles
University of Washington

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