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Journal Article

Millennial-Scale Response of a Western Mediterranean River to Late Quaternary Climate Changes: A View from the Deep Sea

Lucile Bonneau, Stéphan J. Jorry, Samuel Toucanne, Ricardo Silva Jacinto and Laurent Emmanuel
The Journal of Geology
Vol. 122, No. 6 (November 2014), pp. 687-703
DOI: 10.1086/677844
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/677844
Page Count: 17
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Millennial-Scale Response of a Western Mediterranean River to Late Quaternary Climate Changes: A View from the Deep Sea
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Abstract

AbstractAlthough it is widely accepted that erosion and sediment transfer respond to millennial-scale climatic variability, these changes remain difficult to detect in marine sedimentary archives. In the Var sediment-routing system, northwestern Mediterranean Sea, the absence of a continental shelf results in a direct connection between the Var River mouth and the deep basin during both highstand and lowstand conditions. This makes the Var sediment-routing system an ideal target to test whether rivers can transmit climate-driven high-frequency changes in sediment flux to the ocean. On the basis of an unprecedented (centennial-to-millennial-scale) resolution in turbidite sequences, we reconstructed the activity of turbidity current overflows along the deep-sea Var Sedimentary Ridge over the past 75 kyr. The overflow activity is highest (one event every 10–30 yr) during maximum glacial conditions (30 kyr–16 kyr ago [ka]) and rapidly decreases (down to one event every 100–500 yr) during the last glacial-interglacial transition (Termination 1). During marine isotope stage (MIS)4 and MIS3 (75–30 ka), peaks in the overflow activity occurred synchronously with cold and arid Dansgaard-Oeschger stadials, while warmer and wetter interstadial conditions correspond to low overflow activity. We conclude that overflow activity on the Var Sedimentary Ridge mainly reflects changes in the magnitude of hyperpycnal currents flowing in the turbiditic channel-levee system in relation with variations in suspended-sediment concentration during Var River floods. We show that this signal is sensitive to changes in pure sediment flux induced by climatic perturbations occurring inland: (1) the decrease in glacier-derived sediment input after glacier retreat and (2) changes in erosion induced by shifts in the vegetation cover in response to Dansgaard-Oeschger climate swings.

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