Upper Quaternary soil development and paleo-environments on the Swiss Plateau: A progress report

heinz-veit-vortragThe existence of periglacial cover beds as forming an important part of soil parent material in Europe is widely accepted. The youngest of these cover beds, the “Upper Layer” (Hauptlage) is assumed to have developed during the Lateglacial. The formation of Luvisols (Parabraunerden) is assumed to have occurred afterwards, during the Holocene, under forest vegetation and stable surface conditions. Some authors describe initial soil formation during the lateglacial reforestation period (Bölling/Alleröd), but still interpreting the main part of Luvisol formation under forest during the Holocene. One consequence of this interpretation is the use of Bt-horizons as paleo-ecological and stratigraphic indicators of interglacials in Europe.

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On the Swiss Plateau, soils have mainly developed on glacial and glaciofluvial deposits of different ages, covered by periglacial cover beds. The known glacial chronology is an ideal prerequisite to study soil chronosequences on these Upper Quaternary deposits. We applied extensive OSL datings on the cover beds and the parent material of the soils. This allows a more detailed understanding of the timing of processes like decalcification and clay dislocation. The results question some of our basic understandings concerning the timing of soil formation and related paleo-geoecological conditions. These findings and preliminary conclusions from our ongoing research will be discussed in the talk. 

Prof. Dr. Heinz Veit, University of Berne

Prof. Dr. Heinz Veit, University of Berne

Heinz Veit holds the chair of Paleo-Geoecology at the Institute of Geography, University of Berne, since 1996. He did his studies, PhD and postdoc in geomorphology, soil science and geoecology at the universities of Frankfurt, Bayreuth and La Serena (Chile). His scientific interests are I) glacial history and chronology in high mountains (Andes, Bale Mountains, Alps), II) past and present periglacial dynamics and cover beds (Alps, Andes, Bale Mountains, Europe), III) tropical hillwash (Brazil, Kamerun, Nigeria), IV) geoarcheology (Bolivian Amazon, Bale Mountains) and V) soil genesis and paleosols (Europe, Kamerun, Nigeria, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil).

Event Information:

Date, Time: 23/01/2017, 16:00 h – 17:00 h

Location: Room 0.024, Biozentrum (Building 304), Zülpicher Str. 47b, Cologne

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A 1.2 million year record of ecosystem evolution from Lake Malawi, Africa’s most biodiverse lake

Andy Cohen Lake

Long records of Quaternary ecological and climatic change are critical to understanding the range of potential responses of ecosystems to environmental forcing. In Africa, where complex and ancient tropical ecosystems are important parts of the landscape such records are still relatively rare. In this talk I will present an integrated lake and watershed paleoecological analysis from drill core records obtained by the Lake Malawi Drilling Project, documenting extraordinary fluctuations in climate, hydrology and ecosystem response for the southern tropics of Africa. High resolution lacustrine and terrestrial paleoecology and sedimentology data sets from these Early Pleistocene-Holocene drill cores provide the most complete record of this duration currently available from Africa.

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Time series analyses of these records demonstrate the important role that insolation, and especially ~400ka eccentricity modulated precessional cyles Malawi ecosystems. We observe shifts between more arid conditions (shallow alkaline and well mixed lake, with discontinuous desert vegetation) and more humid environments (deep, stratified, freshwater lake with dense forest). These broadly synchronous changes in lake paleoecology, lake sedimentology, and watershed vegetation demonstrate the major role of climate in regulating this system. Transitions between these lake/watershed state extremes is often very abrupt, suggesting that the combined lake/watershed repeatedly passed through hydroclimate thresholds, with important implications for the evolution of the lake’s endemic biodiversity and ecosystem. Lake Malawi also appears to have undergone a major state change after 800-700ka with an adjustement in base level of hundreds of meters that appears to reflect a change in outlet position driven by tectonics. All of these cyclic and non-cyclic changes provide an environmental template against which we can much better understand the adaptive radiation of cichlid fishes which has occurred in the lake, one of the most biodiverse lakes on earth.

 

Prof. Andrew Cohen (University of Arizona)

My research area is paleolimnology, the interpretation of lake history from sedimentary and paleontological records. Most of my work to date has involved studies of depositional environments, paleoecology, and climate history of the African Rift Lakes and the arid climate lakes of the western US. I use paleoecological and sedimentological records as primary tools in the interpretation of lake deposits, from both outcrops and sediment cores.

Event Information:

Date, Time:04/07/2016, 14:00 h – 15:00 h

Location: Room S12, Seminargebäude (Building 106), Universitätsstraße 37 , Cologne

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Sedimentological and computer-based investigations on fluvial dynamics within the Ethiopian Highlands

svenja_meyer_blog_ethopia Ethiopia constitutes several unique research sites for understanding human response to environmental change during the Late Quaternary. Diverse environments were created by interacting tectonic and climate regimes and discovery of numerous archaeological records give reason for geoarchaeological research on caves, rockshelters, and surrounding landscapes. Mochena Borago Rockshelter is under study for Late Pleistocene to Holocene occupation of anatomically modern humans and builds the chronological framework for integration of Later Stone Age (LSA) and Middle Stone Age (MSA) assemblages within the southwestern Ethiopian Highlands. 10 km east of Mochena Borago, areas affected by gully erosion at Bisare River site have exposed obsidian raw material outcrops and archaeological (LSA, MSA) assemblages.

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Svenja Meyer, PhD Candidate in X1.

Svenja Meyer, PhD Candidate in A1.

Sedimentological and GIS-based drainage system and geomorphological analyses are conducted to understand actual and ancient fluvial dynamics and archaeological preservation within the catchment of Bisare River in order to reconstruct ancient landscapes. Together with Mochena Borago and Bisare River in the southwestern Ethiopian Highlands, investigations at site Dendi Lake in the central Ethiopian Highlands on archaeological assemblages of all Stone Age periods are carried out. Therefore, the Dendi caldera complex is under study for GIS-based and sedimentological geomorphological mapping and hydrological analyses of the lake in- and outflow for paleoenvironmental reconstruction.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 27/06/2016, 14:45 h – 15:30 h

Location: Room S12, Seminargebäude (Building 106), Universitätsstraße 37 , Cologne

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10th Martin Schwarzbach Colloquium

SCHEDULE

15.00 – 15.10h:        Ansgar Büschges
(Dean of Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Cologne)

Words of Welcome in Honour of Martin Schwarzbach

15.10 – 15.30h:        Bettina Adenauer-Bieberstein
(Honorary Consul of Iceland in Cologne)

“Martin Schwarzbach and his special relation to Iceland”

15.30 – 16.30h:        Rick Potts

Potts“The Environmental Dynamics of Human Evolution” 

East Africa is the source of much information about the evolution of early human ancestors. A synthesis of East African environmental data suggests that significant events in human origins typically developed during lengthy eras of strong climate fluctuation. Analysis of Earth’s orbital dynamics offers a model of alternating high and low climate variability over the past 5 million years.

This high/low variability model shows that fluctuations between arid and moist climate were important in the evolution of key human adaptations. The origin of the major early human lineages, critical transitions in stone technology, and the main geographic milestones in human origins all appear to coincide with prolonged intervals of intense climate variability. Climate dynamics and resource uncertainty likely shaped the adaptive versatility of our species, expressed by the expansion of mobile technologies, symbolic behavior, social networks, and behavioral diversity. Long climate sequences obtained by drilling in the East African Rift Valley, including near the site of Olorgesailie, Kenya, will test these ideas about the significance of adaptability in the origin of our species.

16.30 – 16.45h: Coffee Break

16.45 – 17.45h:        Mark Maslin

Mark Maslin“The Cradle of Humanity: How the changing landscape of Africa made us smart”

Current evidence suggests that all of the major events in hominin evolution have occurred in East Africa. Over the last two decades, there has been intensive work undertaken to understand African palaeoclimate and tectonics in order to put together a coherent picture of how the environment of East Africa has varied in the past. The landscape of East Africa has altered dramatically over the last 10 million years. It has changed from a relatively flat, homogenous region covered with mixed tropical forest, to a varied and heterogeneous environment, with mountains over 4 km high and vegetation ranging from desert to cloud forest.

The progressive rifting of East Africa has also generated numerous lake basins, which are highly sensitive to changes in the local precipitation-evaporation regime. There is now evidence that the rapid oscillation between the presence and absence of deep-water lakes in East Africa were concurrent with major events in hominin evolution. It seems the unusual geology and climate of East Africa created periods of highly variable local climate, which, it has been suggested could have driven hominin speciation, brain expansion and dispersal out of Africa. One example is the significant hominin speciation and brain expansion event at ~1.8 million years ago that seems to have been coeval with the occurrence of highly variable, extensive, deep-water lakes. This complex, climatically very variable setting inspired the pulsed climate variability hypothesis that suggests the long-term drying trend in East Africa was punctuated by episodes of short, alternating periods of extreme humidity and aridity. The fundamental question, however, remains how much did variations in the landscape versus social factors influence the 80% expansion of brain capacity and the dispersal out of Africa at 1.8 million years ago.

17.45h:         Get Together (incl. Snacks & Drinks)

If you are interested in attending, please reserve a seat using our online booking system or send an email to the IRTG Office till April 18, 2016.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 29/04/2016, 15:00 h – 19:00 h

Location: Geo-/Bio-Hörsaal, Zülpicher Str. 49a, Cologne

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Reconstructing Environmental Conditions of the Last Glacial in the Northern Harz Foreland

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Several types of archives are used for reconstructing paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic conditions during the quaternary. Loess-paleosol-sequences often represent the best accessible archive in terrestrial environments. The accumulation of loess is linked to cold environments whereas soil formation on loess occurs during warmer and moister periods.

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Repeating changes of climatic and environmental conditions result in accumulation and development of loess-paleosol-sequenes. Two loess-paleosol sections in the northern Harz foreland have been investigated within the second phase of the “Collaborative Research Centre 806 (CRC806) – Our Way to Europe

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Lydia Krauß, Project D1

– Culture-Environment Interaction and Human Mobility in the Late Quaternary”. We are aiming towards a better understanding of the paleoenvironmental conditions during the Weichselian in an area close to the Scandinavian ice sheet. To achieve that, a multi-proxy approach is applied. During June 2014 the two profiles Hecklingen and Zilly were cleaned, documented and sampled for sedimentological analyses. Samples were continuously taken in a high resolution of 5 cm for multi-elemental (XRF), CaCO3 content, environmental magnetism, color and grain size distribution measurements.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 02/05/2016, 14:45 h – 15:30 h

Location: Room S12, Seminargebäude (Building 106), Universitätsstraße 37 , Cologne

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Combining geochronological and stratigraphic information for Central European loess sections

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Loess-paleosol sequences (LPS) are the most extensively available archives for the reconstruction of paleoenvironmental conditions in Central Europe. A huge amount of sections were published during the past centuries providing information concerning stratigraphy, geochemical, biological or sedimentological proxy data. Luminescence dating was applied to develop a chronological framework which allows for correlations to other archives and large-scale proxy data such oxygen isotopic stages or Greenland ice core data.

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However, it is hardly possible to date short-time climatic oscillations (e.g. Dansgaar-Oeschger cycles) or transitions only at one location due to local specifics concerning accumulation rates and erosive processes. This phenomenon ends in the observation that very often dates from different localities do not match well. Thus, the integrated perspective of stratigraphy and luminescence dating from different localities could improve the chronological knowledge.

In this study, we focused on the transition from the local LGM in the sense of the maximum extent of glaciation and a following ‘terrestrial LGM’ with a maximum of aridity and coldness.

Jörg Zens

Jörg Zens, Project D1

The associated sediment sequence contains the Eltville Tephra. It was never dated directly but the surrounding sediments were dated 87 times at 15 localities with different luminescence techniques yielding ages between 13.5 and 49.6 ka. These ages were quantitatively combined to calculate a reproducible common age and compared to a new date directly from the tephra. Additionally, further luminescence ages were determined from the remaining units of the transitions zone and finally correlated to independent proxy data and chronologies.  As a result, a more reliable chronology and environmental model is presented.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 02/05/2016, 15:30 h – 16:15 h

Location: Room S12, Seminargebäude (Building 106), Universitätsstraße 37 , Cologne

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Vegetation history of northwest Turkey and the southern Levant since the Last Glacial

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Andrea Miebach is a PhD student in the CRC project B3. She studied biology at the University of Bonn and started her PhD project in October 2013. The key task of the B3 project is to reveal environmental conditions during times of human dispersal in the southern part of the eastern trajectory. Here, long and high-resolution continental records are rare. The study of pollen and other palynomorphs give us the opportunity not only to investigate how the vegetation looked like, but it also gives us insights into climate conditions and human occupation.

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Last interglacial vegetation and climate of the southern Levant

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I am a part of the CRC 806 project B3 “Environmental Response on Climate Impact in the Levant during the last 200 ka based on a Long Continental Record from the Dead Sea”. As was introduced in my first presentation, the major objective of my PhD thesis is to investigate the vegetation of the southern Levant during the last Interglacial by analyzing pollen assemblages from the Dead Sea deep drilling cores.

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