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Spatio-temporal evolution of the Choisille River (southern Parisian Basin, France) during the Weichselian and the Holocene as a record of climate trend and human activity in north-western Europe

Abstract : The morpho-sedimentary evolution of the Choisille floodplain (lowland river, catchment: 288 km2), a tributary of the River Loire in the south-western Parisian Basin, was studied through 61 core drillings along eight transects and a geophysical survey located in four stretches of the river: stretches A and B correspond to two sub-catchments, and stretches C and D are in the main valley. Sixty 14C and four OSL datings were obtained, and sediments were analysed on seven reference cores. Eight phases of evolution differing markedly from the evolution of more northern areas in the Parisian Basin and north-western Europe were identified from spatio-temporal distribution of nine lithological facies. The deepest incision phase (1) occurred during the first part of the Weichselian, followed by the deposition of a gravelly-sandy unit (phase 2) during the Middle Pleniglacial, which was deeply incised (phase 3), probably during the Bölling. From the Allerød up to the last third of the Boreal (phase 4), sedimentation was continuously dominated by peaty deposits, with no evidence of either increased hydraulic energy during the Younger Dryas, or of incision during the LateGlacial–Holocene transition. This trend seems to reflect the specificity of the south-western Parisian Basin climate from the Late Weichselian up to the end of the Boreal, due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, compared to more northern areas where the climate was more continental. The downstream incision trend during the last third of the Boreal up to the Subatlantic (phases 5 and 6) indicates a sharp increase in precipitation and vegetation cover; the lack of peaty sediments, widespread in north-western Europe, and also of precipitated carbonates frequent in the Parisian Basin, seems to be due to local physiographic characteristics. The main part of the sediment filling, which is principally silty and retrograde, began during the Subatlantic (phase 7 and 8) as a result of deforestation of the plateaux for crop farming. High human-induced sediment yield and storage concealed the possible impacts of climate change on fluvial dynamics: lithological facies change from phase 7 to 8 can only indicate the autogenic morphological evolution of the floodplain in accretion. The non-univocal upstream–downstream variation in the start of phase 7 shows that sediment yield varied in space and time in the catchment, particularly in relation to the agricultural potential of the different areas; this observation could be used to testify human-induced sedimentation in other catchments.
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Eymeric Morin, Jean-Jacques Macaire, Florent Hinschberger, Isabelle Gay-Ovejero, Stéphane Rodrigues, et al.. Spatio-temporal evolution of the Choisille River (southern Parisian Basin, France) during the Weichselian and the Holocene as a record of climate trend and human activity in north-western Europe. Quaternary Science Reviews, Elsevier, 2011, 30 (3-4), pp.347-363. ⟨10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.11.015⟩. ⟨insu-00547675⟩

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