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Recent revision of the Pleistocene glaciation boundaries in northern Eurasia has encouraged the search for nonglacial geological records of the environmental history of northern West Siberia. We studied an alluvial paleosol-sedimentary sequence of the high terrace of the Vakh River (middle Ob basin) to extract the indicators of environmental change since Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 6. Two levels of the buried paleosols are attributed to MIS 5 and MIS 3, as evidenced by U/Th and radiocarbon dates. Palynological and pedogenetic characteristics of the lower pedocomplex recorded the climate fluctuations during MIS 5, from the Picea-Larix taiga environment during MIS 5e to the establishment of the tundra-steppe environment due to the cooling of MIS 5d or MIS 5b and partial recovery of boreal forests with Picea and Pinus in MIS 5c or MIS 5a. The upper paleosol level shows signs of cryogenic hydromorphic pedogenesis corresponding to the tundra landscape, with permafrost during MIS 3. Boulders incorporated in a laminated alluvial deposit between the paleosols are dropstones brought from the Enisei valley by ice rafting during the cold MIS 4. An abundance of eolian morphostructures on quartz grains from the sediments that overly the upper paleosol suggests a cold, dry, and windy environment during the MIS 2 cryochron.
Late Quaternary landscapes of unglaciated Beringia were largely shaped by ice-wedge polygon tundra. Ice Complex (IC) strata preserve such ancient polygon formations. Here we report on the Yukagir IC from Bol'shoy Lyakhovsky Island in northeastern Siberia and suggest that new radioisotope disequilibria (230Th/U) dates of the Yukagir IC peat confirm its formation during the Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 7a–c interglacial period. The preservation of the ice-rich Yukagir IC proves its resilience to last interglacial and late glacial–Holocene warming. This study compares the Yukagir IC to IC strata of MIS 5, MIS 3, and MIS 2 ages exposed on Bol'shoy Lyakhovsky Island. Besides high intrasedimental ice content and syngenetic ice wedges intersecting silts, sandy silts, the Yukagir IC is characterized by high organic matter (OM) accumulation and low OM decomposition of a distinctive Drepanocladus moss-peat. The Yukagir IC pollen data reveal grass-shrub-moss tundra indicating rather wet summer conditions similar to modern ones. The stable isotope composition of Yukagir IC wedge ice is similar to those of the MIS 5 and MIS 3 ICs pointing to similar atmospheric moisture generation and transport patterns in winter. IC data from glacial and interglacial periods provide insights into permafrost and climate dynamics since about 200 ka.
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