To save this undefined to your undefined account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your undefined account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Holocene sediments at Emerald Lake in central Utah (3090 m asl) document the paleohydroclimatic history of the western Upper Colorado River headwater region. Multi-proxy analyses of sediment composition, mineralogy, and stable isotopes of carbonate (δ18O and δ13C) show changes in effective moisture for the past ca. 10,000 years at millennial to decadal timescales. Emerald Lake originated as a shallow, closed-basin cirque pond during the Early Holocene. By ca. 7000 cal yr BP, higher lake levels and carbonate δ18O values indicate rising effective moisture and higher proportions of summer precipitation continued at least until ca. 5500 cal yr BP when a landslide entered the lake margin. Between ca. 4500 and 2400 cal yr BP dry conditions at Emerald Lake envelop the timing of the ‘Late Holocene Dry Period’ identified at lower elevations. For the past ca. 2500 years, Emerald Lake δ18O values were relatively low, indicating wetter conditions and higher snow input (compared to rain), except for dry periods at ca. 2000 cal yr BP and during the Medieval Climate Anomaly at ca. 1000 and ca. 500 cal yr BP. Results provide a long-term perspective on precipitation extremes that influence regional water supplies from a snow-dominated catchment typical of the predominant source region for the Upper Colorado River.
Continuous records of sediment yield spanning from the late glacial through the Holocene to the present day provide an important opportunity to investigate landscape evolution over various timescales in response to a variety of natural and anthropogenic forcing mechanisms. This study investigates variations in sediment yield and landscape evolution in the 768 km2 watershed of Ossipee Lake, New Hampshire, USA. We pair subbottom sonar observations with analyses of lacustrine sediment cores to interpret a 12,000+ yr record of lake sedimentation in terms of changes in sediment yield and landscape evolution. Our results indicate high rates of sediment redistribution following deglaciation at ~14,500 to ~12,000 cal yr BP, followed by a period of gradually decreasing sediment yield until ~9000 cal yr BP, marking the termination of the most intense period of paraglacial landscape adjustment. From 9000 cal yr BP to 1850 CE, sediment yield is highly variable and reveals a slightly increasing trend that we attribute to a dominant hydroclimatic control on erosion driven by increasing effective precipitation in the region throughout the Holocene. Despite evidence for a highly dynamic landscape and an abundance of unconsolidated glacigenic surface deposits throughout the watershed, we interpret a modest erosional impact from anthropogenic land use.
We examine the Holocene loess record in the Heye Catchment on the margins of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and China Loess Plateau (CLP) to determine: the region to which the Heye Catchment climate is more similar; temporal change in wind strength; and modification of the loess record by mass wasting and human activity. Luminescence and radiocarbon dating demonstrate loess deposited in two periods: >11–8.6 ka and <5.1 ka. The 8.6–5.1 ka depositional hiatus, which coincides with the Mid-Holocene Climatic Optimum, is more similar to the loess deposition cessation in the TP than to the loess deposition deceleration in the CLP. Grain-size analysis suggests the Heye loess is a mixture of at least three different grain-size distributions and that it may derive from multiple sources. A greater proportion of coarse sediments in the older loess may indicate stronger winds compared with the more recent depositional period. Gravel incorporated into younger loess most likely comes from bedrock exposed in slump scarps. Human occupation of the catchment, for which the earliest evidence is 3.4 ka, postdates the onset of slumping; thus the slumps may have created a livable environment for humans.
Paleoecological and modern studies at Priyatnoye Lake, which is located within an intermontane depression in the interior of northeastern Siberia, indicate a similar paleovegetation record as has been documented for nearby mountain valleys, but a history of basin stability and instability that is uncharacteristic of the valley lakes. Analyses of a 385-cm-long core from the western basin of Priyatnoye Lake shows that sediment accumulation began in late Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3), followed by a hiatus during MIS 2, and then continuous accumulation over the past ca. 14,000 cal yr BP. The eastern basin of the lake has a sediment thickness of ~35 cm, suggesting that it intermittently contained water and/or is younger than the western basin. A drop in lake levels between AD 2005 and AD 2009 resulted in the formation of two distinct lakes. This change was caused by the melting of underlying ice wedges and the formation of sinkholes through which the lake water drained. Although the northern coastal lowlands have been the geographic focus of permafrost global warming research, the Priyatnoye study draws attention to the intermontane depressions in northeastern Siberia. While less extensive, these depressions contain organic-rich deposits, are underlain by permafrost, and have the potential to affect future carbon budgets as global temperatures rise and permafrost melts.
Layers 12 and 13 of the Chongphadae Cave site located northwest of the central part of the Korean Peninsula include human fossils, fireplaces, a great number of lithic artefacts, and mammal remains. These layers represent new evidence for the paleoenvironment, human occupation, and activities in this region during the late MIS 3 and MIS 2, associated with global cold and dry climate, respectively. Most of lithic artefacts collected are flake tools. Raw material selection, lithic reduction technology, and lithic industry represent peculiar local characteristics. Our analysis of faunal assemblages also suggests that the Chongphadae region had a rich ecosystem capable of forming a diverse mammalian fauna including ungulates (mainly deer and horses) during this period. It is likely that the mosaic landscapes, including grasslands, forests, rivers, and wetlands, provided a favorable environment for humans, as well as mammals and plants, and the occupants of the site actively hunted and gathered in a relatively temperate environment. Our study suggests that the central Korean Peninsula was not severely affected by global dry and cold events such as LGM, although it was a somewhat humid and cold environment during the late MIS 3 and MIS 2. The central Korean Peninsula may have existed as an unknown refugium (or area of endemism) in northeastern Asia during this time.
Six vertebrae (one cervical, three articulated thoracic, and two lumbar) and an incomplete thoracic neural spine from a new late Pleistocene site at Anolaima, Cundinamarca, Colombia, are attributed to the extinct gomphothere (Elephantoidea, Proboscidea) Notiomastodon platensis. The preserved bones exhibit a range of alterations, including porosities, piercings, hollows, and deep bone lesions on the spinous process and the neural arch; asymmetrical zygapophyseal articulations; and osteoarthritic lesions. Diet, behaviour, ecological aspects, selective pressures, and disease have the potential to affect the bones, so the study of individual variations and palaeopathology provides important information for understanding aspects of the life of extinct organisms. Osteological anomalies in the Anolaima gomphothere are interpreted as the result of nutritional deficiencies in essential minerals caused by environmental stresses, possibly related to the palaeoenvironmental instability that characterized the late Pleistocene and that coincides with the age of the fossils. Excessive biomechanical loading on already weakened bones from locomotion through the uneven, upland terrain of the Anolaima region may have contributed to the pathologies. This palaeopathological analysis is the first for Colombian megafauna, and thereby broadens our knowledge of the health conditions of South American gomphotheres.
Although tortoises (Testudinidae) are a familiar clade of reptiles, with a body fossil record extending to at least the Eocene, hitherto no tortoise ichnosites have been described. Here, a number of sites attributed to tortoise trackmakers are identified within Pleistocene aeolianites on South Africa's Cape south coast. These date from late Marine Isotope Stage 6 to Marine Isotope Stage 4. The findings indicate large trackmakers, with evidence of a trackmaker length of more than a meter—substantially longer than the largest extant tortoises in southern Africa. This suggests either the presence of an extinct very large tortoise species, or that Pleistocene leopard tortoises in the region were larger than their descendants. Variations in substrate properties are responsible for a variety of track and trace forms. A mismatch exists between the reported ichnological evidence for large tortoises, and the regional archaeological and body fossil records, which almost exclusively comprise smaller tortoises. The findings illustrate the potential of ichnology to complement and augment the paleontological and archaeological records.
Quaternary environments on the Arabian Peninsula shifted between pronounced arid conditions and phases of increased rainfall, which had a profound impact on Earth surface processes. However, while aeolian sediment dynamics are reasonably well understood, there is a lack of knowledge with regard to variability in the fluvial systems. Presented here are the findings from several locations within wadi drainage systems to the west of the Hajar Mountains (United Arab Emirates). The performance of optically stimulated luminescence dating using a customized standardized growth curve approach is investigated, showing that this approach allows reliable determination of ages by reducing the machine time required. Three main periods of fluvial activity occurred at 160–135, 43–34, and ca. 20 ka. Additional ages fall into the latest Pleistocene and Late Holocene. None of the ages coincides with major wet periods in SE Arabia that have been identified in stalagmites and by the deposition of lake sediments. It is shown that fluvial activity was partly contemporaneous (within the given time resolution) with phases of aeolian deposition and was almost continuous, but likely sporadic, during the Middle to Late Pleistocene. This highlights the need for regionally defined paleoenvironmental records to fully understand the response of dryland systems to long-term climatic change.
The “tablelands” in Taiwan are sedimentary terraces occurring in the foreland basin west of the Neogene mountain ranges. The Miaoli Tableland consists of elevated Late Quaternary sedimentary successions, representing a change from tidal to coastal and fluvial to eolian depositional environments. The present-day morphology is a result of combined processes, including differential tectonic uplift, ongoing fluvial aggradation, and incision. Selected deposits in 10 outcrops were sampled and studied by optical dating. The deposition of fluvial sediments started after the last interglacial (<100 ka) in the southeast of the tablelands. Uplift and sea-level lowering caused a base-level fall, resulting in a stepwise redeposition of the fluvial sediments. Additionally, enhanced remobilization of fluvial sediments occurred during the cold/dry climate during Marine Oxygen Isotope Stages (MIS) 4 and 2. The depositional ages of the coastal sediments enabled the estimation of long-term uplift rates of ca. 0.5 to 3.5 mm/yr. The eolian cover sediments yielded MIS 3 (east) to Holocene ages (west). Our results provide new insight into the interplay of climate, sea-level changes, remobilization of sediments, and tectonism leading to tableland formation during the Late Quaternary.
The relationship between prehistoric populations and water is often poorly understood, partly as a function of historical reliance on qualitative and fragmentary datasets in many regions. Here, we adopt a quantitative approach to analyze a specific aspect of the relationship between prehistoric populations and water for the Cotswold Hills, southwest UK; an area of documented hydrogeological change and extensive Neolithic (ca. 5.5 ka) activity. Using a database of all known Neolithic monuments, we interrogate the significance of water to their habitation. By marshaling a large dataset of recent (ca. 100 years) changes in the discharge and elevation of 259 springs, we establish a striking negative relationship between present-day spring discharge and annual elevation change. We then formulate an inverse problem to predict spring elevations in Neolithic times. Spring elevations are predicted to be closer to, and higher than, Neolithic-dated sites relative to the location of modern springs. These results emphasize a utilitarian and/or reverential link between water and prehistoric populations. Our approach of reconciling markedly different datasets and timescales can easily be adapted to other regions. While groundwater had behaved reasonably predictably since Neolithic times, recent human activity is (and will continue to be) far more significant in influencing groundwater behavior.
The relict beach deposit of the Cala Mosca marine terrace is considered an important section of Marine Isotopic Stage (MIS) 5e (ca. 125 ka) sea-level highstands. Analysis of the stratigraphy and sediments of the deposit indicates the presence of a composite marine terrace comprising two superimposed marine units, luminescence dated to the MIS 5e (137 ± 7, 134 ± 7 ka) and MIS 5c (92 ± 6 ka) substages. The stratigraphic superimposition of the two highstands, both placed ~5 m above present sea level, agrees with other areas along the Sardinia coasts. The evident superimposition of two sea-level highstands and development of the composite terrace cannot be accounted solely by high-frequency sea-level oscillation that occurred within MIS 5 for the Mediterranean Sea. This suggests controversial, but significant, regional versus local tectonic activity occurred during the Late Pleistocene.
Ancient environmental DNA retrieved from sedimentary records (sedaDNA) can complement fossil-morphological approaches for characterizing Quaternary biodiversity changes. PCR-based DNA metabarcoding is so far the most widely used method in environmental DNA studies, including sedaDNA. However, degradation of ancient DNA and potential contamination, together with the PCR amplification drawbacks, have to be carefully considered. Here we tested this approach on speleothems from an Alpine cave that, according to a previous palynomorphological study, have shown to contain abundant pollen grains. This offers a unique opportunity for comparing the two methods and, indirectly, trying to validate DNA-based results. The plant taxa identified by sedaDNA are fewer than those by pollen analysis, and success rate of PCR replicates is low. Despite extensive work performed following best practice for sedaDNA, our results are suboptimal and accompanied by a non-negligible uncertainty. Our preliminary data seem to indicate that paleoenvironmental DNA may be isolated from speleothems, but the intrinsic weakness of PCR-based metabarcoding poses a challenge to its exploitation. We suggest that newly developed methods such as hybridization capture, being free from PCR drawbacks and offering the opportunity to directly assess aDNA authenticity, may overcome these limitations, allowing a proper exploitation of speleothems as biological archives.