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Holocene Climate Variability in Sicily from a Discontinuous Stalagmite Record and the Mesolithic to Neolithic Transition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Silvia Frisia*
Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, via Calepina 14, 38100 Trento, Italy
Andrea Borsato
Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, via Calepina 14, 38100 Trento, Italy
Augusto Mangini
Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, Im Neuenheimer Feld 229, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany
Christoph Spötl
Institut für Geologie und Paläontologie, Leopold-Franzens-Universität, Innrain 52, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Giuliana Madonia
Dipartimento di Geologia e Geodesia, Università di Palermo, Corso Tukory 131, 90134 Palermo, Italy
Ugo Sauro
Dipartimento di Geografia, Università di Padova, Via del Santo 26, 35123 Padova, Italy
*Corresponding author. E-mail (S. Frisia), (A. Borsato), (A. Mangini), (C. Spötl),, (U. Sauro).


Fabric and stable isotopic composition of a Holocene stalagmite (CR1) from a cave in northern Sicily record changes in paleorainfall in the early Holocene. High δ13C stable isotope values in the calcite deposited from ca. 8500 to ca. 7500 yr ago are interpreted as reflecting periods of high rainfall. The wet phase was interrupted by two periods of multi-century duration characterized by relatively cool and dry winters centered at ca. 8200 and ca. 7500 yr ago, highlighted by low δ13C and δ18O values. A high variability of δ13C values is recorded from ca. 7500 to ca. 6500 yr ago and indicates that the transition from a pluvial early Holocene to the present-day climate conditions was punctuated by decadal-scale periods of relatively dry winters. In northern Sicily, the traditional elements of the Neolithic appear at ca. 7700 yr ago. It is possible that changes in rainfall influenced the passage from hunter-gathering to farming and sheep-herding economies.

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