Interglacial Diversity in the Mediterranean Basin, Insights from Central Italy Continental Carbonates

The Apuan Alps (central Italy).

Past interglacial periods can be seen as a series of natural experiments characterized by different boundary conditions (e.g. seasonal and latitudinal distribution of insolation, atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, extent of continental ice sheets), with different consequent effects on the character of climate change. Past interglacial are keys to understand past but also future-climate, because they represent potential analogues of the present warm period (Holocene) and offer the unique possibility to investigate the background of climate variability in which human-induced modifications operate, and to clarify their role in the natural sequence of events.

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Dr. Eleonora Regattieri (University Cologne).

Continental carbonates (speleothem and lacustrine sediment) from the Mediterranean basin represent invaluable archives of past climate. Particularly, oxygen stable isotope composition of these deposits responds sensitively to variations in regional hydrology. This information can be complemented by the study of others properties (e.g. elemental and mineralogical composition), to obtain more detailed information on local environmental changes. In this talk, several case studies from central Italy lakes and caves are presented.  They cover the Last Interglacial (ca. 130-90 ka), and the interglacial corresponding to the marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 19 (ca. 790-760 ka), considered the best orbital analog of the Holocene over the last million of years. All the presented records have independent, radiometric chronologies thanks to uranium-thorium dating of speleothem and to Argon/argon dating of volcanic ash layers interbedded to the lacustrine sediment. Climate evolution, hydrological response and millennial-scale variability are evaluated, and the potential link with the extra-regional and global climate is discussed.

Event Information:

Date, Time:07/05/2018, 16:00 h – 17:00 h

Location: Kleiner Hörsaal der Geologie (310a), Zülpicher Straße 49, Cologne

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10th Martin Schwarzbach Colloquium


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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