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The Holstein Interglaciation: Time-Stratigraphic Position and Correlation to Stable-Isotope Stratigraphy of Deep-Sea Sediments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Michael Sarnthein
Geologisch-Palaeontologisches Institut der Universitaet Kiel, D-2300 Kiel, Federal Republic of Germany
Helmut E. Stremme
Bartelsallee 14 D-2300 Kiel, Federal Republic of Germany
Augusto Mangini
Institut für Umweltphysik, Universitaet Heidelberg, D-6900 Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany


Marine molluscan shells from para-type and other localities of the Holsteinian interglaciation were dated by Th/U and the electron spin resonance (ESR) method to more than 350,000 and 370,000 yr B.P., beyond the limit of Th/U dating. The high age estimate is corroborated by a K/Ar age of 420,000 yr B.P. determined from volcanic ash near the base of the Ariendorf paleosol in the Middle Rhine valley believed to be a pedostratigraphic equivalent of the Holsteinian. Shells from the Herzeele marine unit III, an equivalent of the Wacken (Dömnitz) warm stage in northern France and subsequent to the Holsteinian, revealed ages between 300,000 and 350,000 yr B.P. A correlation of these two warm stages with marine oxygen-isotope stages 11 and 9 on the SPECMAP and CARTUNE time scales is suggested. From the benthic oxygen-isotope record one may infer that no exceptionally high global sea-level rise corresponds to the large transgressions of the Holstein Sea in northern Germany. Therefore, a significant proportion of the transgression was probably the result of an unusually large local glacial-isostatic depression caused by the extreme buildup of ice during the preceding Elster glaciation (stage 12). According to the deep-sea record, it lasted approximately 50% longer than the subsequent cold stage 10. The outstanding soil formation with Braunlehm and the well-developed thermal optimum of the Holsteinian are tentatively related to a phase of minimum sea-ice cover in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, as deduced from long benthic carbon-isotope records from the central Atlantic.

Research Article
University of Washington

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