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We report a marine Middle Pleistocene mollusc fauna from a borehole near Luxwoude (Friesland, northern Netherlands). The fauna contains several species, including Bittium species, Acanthocardia paucicostata and Polititapes senescens, that hitherto have been used as indicative for warm (lusitanian) conditions in the southern North Sea Basin during the Late Pleistocene Eemian (MIS5e) interglacial. However, the stratigraphic context of the Luxwoude marine fauna indicates a MIS11 or older age for this new fauna. This thermophilous fauna demonstrates very warm-temperate conditions and probably an open marine connection through the Dover Strait towards the south, during this Middle Pleistocene interglacial. In the North Sea basin, this distinctive lusitanian fauna with Bittium-dominated assemblages can therefore no longer be presumed to be of Eemian age without additional evidence.
When dealing with stratigraphic successions in marginal basin settings, the geological record is often fragmented due to erosion and reworking processes. The North Sea Basin is an example: it has a fragmented Quaternary record; in particular, Middle Pleistocene intervals are poorly known. As a result, we have little insight into climate, marine environmental conditions and biodiversity in this period. Here we describe and discuss a succession of three interglacial marine mollusc-bearing intervals in a borehole from Ameland in the northern Netherlands (borehole B01H0189 near Hollum). These intervals are attributed to marine isotope stages MIS7, MIS5e and MIS1. The Holocene Celtic type of faunas (interval 0–26.24 m below surface (b.s.)) and Eemian Lusitanian type of faunas (26.24–30.40 m b.s.) are well-known from previous research. The newly reported MIS7 Oostermeer fauna (32.80–39.00 m b.s.) represents mostly full marine settings between storm wave base and fair-weather wave base. In composition and diversity, the MIS7 and MIS1 faunas strongly resemble and differ from the MIS5e fauna. This is the first well-documented record of three stacked marine interglacial assemblages from the southern North Sea Basin at one location. This new record enables us to make complete marine faunal characterisations of successive interglacial periods. Key implications for southern North Sea stratigraphy and palaeogeography are the resemblance of marine faunas and conditions in MIS7 and MIS1, the presence of a relatively warm latest MIS6 freshwater interval and confirmation and characterisation of the warm Eemian interval north of the classical type area.
The Amsterdam glacial basin was a major sedimentary sink from late Saalian until late Eemian (Picea zone, E6) times. The basin’s exemplary record makes it a potential reference area for the last interglacial stage. The cored Amsterdam-Terminal borehole was drilled in 1997 to provide a record throughout the Eemian interglacial. Integrated facies analysis has resulted in a detailed reconstruction of the sedimentary history.
After the Saalian ice mass had disappeared from the area, a large, deep lake had come into being, fed by the Rhine river. At the end of the glacial, the lake became smaller because it was cut off from the river-water supply, and eventually only a number of shallow pools remained in the Amsterdam basin. During the early Eemian (Betula zone, El), a seepage lake existed at the site. The lake deepened under the influence of a steadily rising sea level and finally evolved into a silled lagoon (late Quercus zone, E3). Initially, the lagoon water had fairly stable stratification, but as the sea level continued to rise the sill lost its significance, the lagoon becoming well mixed by the middle of the Corylus/Taxus zone (E4b). The phase of free exchange with the open sea ended in the early Carpinus zone (E5), when barriers developed in the sill area causing the lagoon to become stratified again. During the Late Eemian (late E5), a more dynamic system developed. The sandy barriers that had obstructed exchange with the open sea were no longer effective, and a tidally-influenced coastal lagoon formed.
The Eemian sedimentary history shown in the Amsterdam-Terminal borehole is intimately connected with the sea-level history. Because the site includes both a high-resolution pollen signal and a record of sea-level change, it has potential for correlation on various scales. Palaeomagnetic results show that the sediments predate the Blake Event, which confirms that this reversal excursion is relatively young. The U/Th age of the uppermost part of the Eemian sequence is 118.2±6.3 ka.
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