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Tracking Holocene glacial and high-altitude alpine environments fluctuations from minerogenic and organic markers in proglacial lake sediments (Lake Blanc Huez, Western French Alps)

Abstract : Holocene palaeoenvironmental evolution and glacial fluctuations at high-altitude in the western French Alps are reconstructed based on a multiproxy approach within Lake Blanc Huez (2550 m a.s.l.) drainage basin. The combination of seismic profiling (3.5 kHz), piston coring and radiocarbon dating in proglacial lacustrine sediments together with a detailed organic analysis of autochthonous and allochthonous supply allows documenting the evolution of glacier activity during the Holocene. Over the last 9700 years, the Holocene lake record has a bimodal pattern whose transition is progressive and occurring between 5400 and 4700 cal BP. During the Early Holocene, the organic lacustrine facies reflects reduced glacial activity in the catchment. This major glacial retreat seems to result from solar forcing and high summer insolation. After 5400 cal BP, lacustrine sedimentation is marked by the gradual increase both of minerogenic supply and soil erosion, suggesting a progressive transition to wetter climatic conditions. This climate change is synchronous both from the gradual decrease of summer insolation and the gradual reorganization of oceanic and atmospheric circulations, characterizing the beginning of the Neoglacial period. Both colder temperature and humid climate induced significant glacier advance, since 4700 cal BP. Over this global trend, three periods are particularly associated with higher runoff processes and higher soil erosion interpreted as wetter time intervals resulting from enhanced northern Westerlies regimes across the North Atlantic and Western Europe. They are dated from 8700 to 7000, 4700 to 2500 and 1200 to 200 cal BP. These wetter phases drastically contrast with periods of reduced glacial activities dated from the Early Bronze Age (ca 3870-3770 cal BP), the Iron Age (ca 2220-2150 cal BP), the Roman period (ca AD115-330) and the Medieval Warm Period (ca AD760-1160). In addition, these dryer periods are associated with mining activities at high-altitude.
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Anaëlle Simonneau, Emmanuel Chapron, M. Garçon, T. Winiarski, Yann Graz, et al.. Tracking Holocene glacial and high-altitude alpine environments fluctuations from minerogenic and organic markers in proglacial lake sediments (Lake Blanc Huez, Western French Alps). Quaternary Science Reviews, Elsevier, 2014, 89, pp.27-43. ⟨10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.02.008⟩. ⟨insu-00955263⟩

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