The Quaternary climate of southern Europe (south Italy and Greece) is investigated by pollen analysis of the sapropels which were deposited in the deep eastern Mediterranean Sea during the last 1 million year (Ma). The time-scale of core KC01b in the Ionian Sea has been established by tuning its oxygen isotopic record to the ice volume model of Imbrie and Imbrie (1980) . For the last 250,000 year (250 ka), the previous pollen studies and astronomical tuning have been confirmed. Sapropels were deposited under a large range of Mediterranean climates: fully interglacial, fully glacial, and intermediary, as revealed mainly by the balance between the respective pollen abundances of oak ( Quercus ) and sage-brush ( Artemisia ). The high value of the oak reveals the warm and wet climate of an Interglacial, and the high value of the sage-brush, the dry and cold climate of a Glacial. Whereas the Mediterranean climate is directly related to the variation of the high-latitude ice sheets, the deposition of sapropels is not so. In contrast with the wide climatic range, sapropels were deposited only when summer insolation in the low latitudes reached its highest peaks. However, between 250 ka and 1 Ma, that stable pattern is not yet established. Only six sapropels are observed, many expected ones do not appear, even as ghosts signalled by peaks of barium abundance, that remain after the post-deposition oxidation of organic matter. The pattern of sapropel formation in stable and direct relationship to highest insolation does not seem to apply. For five of those sapropels, neither climate extremes are observed; they mainly formed during intermediary types of Mediterranean climate. In contrast, one sapropel (and one ghost) relates to a relatively low peak of insolation, and its climate is of a unique, composite type not seen later. This might suggest an unsuspected, more complex pattern linking the formation of Mediterranean sapropels to the astronomical configuration.
Marine Geology – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 1999
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