We evaluate the boundary of the Anthropocene geological time interval as an epoch, since it is useful to have a consistent temporal definition for this increasingly used unit, whether the presently informal term is eventually formalized or not. Of the three main levels suggested - an 'early Anthropocene' level some thousands of years ago; the beginning of the Industrial Revolution at similar to 1800 CE (Common Era); and the 'Great Acceleration' of the mid-twentieth century - current evidence suggests that the last of these has the most pronounced and globally synchronous signal. A boundary at this time need not have a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP or 'golden spike') but can be defined by a Global Standard Stratigraphic Age (GSSA), i.e. a point in time of the human calendar. We propose an appropriate boundary level here to be the time of the world's first nuclear bomb explosion, on July 16th 1945 at Alamogordo, New Mexico; additional bombs were detonated at the average rate of one every 9.6 days until 1988 with attendant worldwide fallout easily identifiable in the chemostratigraphic record. Hence, Anthropocene deposits would be those that may include the globally distributed primary artificial radionuclide signal, while also being recognized using a wide range of other stratigraphic criteria. This suggestion for the Holocene-Anthropocene boundary may ultimately be superseded, as the Anthropocene is only in its early phases, but it should remain practical and effective for use by at least the current generation of scientists. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.
Feldspar infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) signals saturate at similar to 2000 Gy, i.e. similar to 500-700 ka (assuming a dose rate of 3-4 Gy/ka, typical for loess) and it is therefore theoretically possible to date Middle Pleistocene loess. However, the accuracy of age estimates is hampered by anomalous fading, which leads to significant age underestimation. Fading corrections have been proposed but these corrections are reliant on inherent assumptions and in any case are inapplicable at large doses (as the growth curve approaches saturation). Recent studies have identified a post-IR IRSL signal that shows less fading and is thus less dependent on accurate fading corrections. This study builds upon these investigations and applies a post-IR IRSL SAR dating protocol to polymineral fine-grain samples of the loess/palaeosol sequence in Stratzing, Lower Austria. After a preheat at 320 degrees C (60 s) and an IR bleach at 50 degrees C (200 s) IRSL was measured at 290 C for 200 s; the same set of conditions were used to measure the response to a test dose. Recycling ratios, recuperation and dose recovery tests show that this protocol is suitable for the loess under investigation, although finite residual doses of up to 20 Gy are observed. For the oldest samples, the natural signal is in, or close to, saturation, indicating that fading is negligible in nature. This observation is inconsistent with the measured laboratory fading rates of 1-1.5%/decade and needs further investigation. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Published and new sea level data are used to provide projections of sea level change in Italy for the year 2100 by adding new isostatic and tectonic component to the IPCC and Rahmstorf projections. Comparison of the observations from more than 130 sites (with different geomorphological and archaeological sea level markers) with the predicted sea level curves provides estimates of the vertical tectonic contribution to the relative sea level change. The results are based on the most recent ANU model for the ice sheets of both hemispheres, including an alpine deglaciation model. On the basis of the eustatic, tectonic and isostatic components to the sea level change, projections are provided for marine inundation scenarios for the Italian coastal plains for the year 2100, that today are at elevations close to current sea level. (c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
The Sierra de Atapuerca sites offer a chronological sequence that allows the evolution of technology at a local scale during the Early and Middle Pleistocene to be reconstructed. This paper presents updated information on the main lithic assemblages recovered from the various levels of the Sima del Elefante, Gran Dolina, Galeria, and Sima de los Huesos sites. The ultimate goal is to look for technological features on the pieces that make up these assemblages that carry evolutionary significance. Other archaeological data will be cross- referenced with the technical features documented in these artefacts in order to better understand the peopling that took place at Atapuerca during the Pleistocene. The first peopling of Atapuerca occurred at 1.2 Ma, and is represented in level TE9 and probably at the top of level TD3-TD4 by Homo sp. and a Mode 1 technology, which is very poor in terms of diversity and energy invested in tool production. This technology is related to opportunistic subsistence strategies that focused on taking advantage of carcasses that had fallen into the cavities. A second cultural phase has been revealed in level TD6, dating to before 800 ka: a phase characterised by new subsistence and technological strategies, although still belonging to Mode 1 and carried out by Homo antecessor. In TD6, the lithic assemblage is rich and diversified. Intensive occupations with well organised subsistence strategies have been documented, including hunting activities and the earliest trace of cannibalism in prehistory. After a hiatus of approximately 300 ky without evidence of hominin presence, the occupations of Galeria and TD10 correspond to a third cultural phase, ranging from between 500 ka and 300 ka. They are represented by a Mode 2 technology associated with systematic and directional carcass processing, including hunting events in TD10. Homo heidelbergensis appears instead of H. antecessor, and is extraordinarily represented at the Sima de los Huesos site in the form of an intentional accumulation of numerous individuals. Finally, TD10.1 may represent the local evolution from Mode 2 to Mode 3 assemblages. After comparing these assemblages, it is clear that several technological features have either been retained or changed over the span of the Atapuerca sequence. The following are considered to have evolutionary significance due to the technological trends described: a) raw material selection (use of local varieties of rock, with the progressive increasing selection of the most workable materials through the Middle Pleistocene); b) production sequences (coexistence of several knapping methods, with a clear increase in centripetal strategies and techniques for flake predetermination, which ultimately lead to Levallois-like methods); c) scarce and insignificant presence of choppers and chopping tools; d) tools on flakes (recorded only from the end of the Early Pleistocene, increasing in number, complexity and standardisation throughout the Middle Pleistocene); and e) large cutting tools (which appear ca 500 ka, and progressively decrease in number, standardisation and intensity of shaping throughout Gran Dolina TD10). (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Applying geochemical proxies as measure for the weathering intensity of paleosols and sediments such as loess, the Quaternary scientist is confronted with various element ratios that have been proposed in literature. This paper gives an overview on the principle of geochemical weathering indices. Different types of indices are evaluated with respect to the suitability for loess-paleosol sequences, regarding the special characteristics of this type of sediments and paleosols. Case examples in this study are key sections in Southeastern and Eastern Europe: the loess-paleosol sequences Batajnica/Stari Slankamen (Serbia), Mircea Voda (Romania) and Stary Kaydaky (Ukraine), which represent archives of the Late and Mid-Pleistocene climate change of the region. Considering element behavior during weathering or diagenesis, the Chemical Proxy of Alteration (CPA) - i.e. the molar ratio Al2O3/(Al2O3 + Na2O) x 100 - is proposed as the most appropriate index for silicate weathering. The CPA was evaluated against commonly used weathering indices including the "Chemical Index of Alteration" (CIA), the "Chemical Index of Weathering" (CIW), the "Plagioclase Index of Alteration" (PIA), the Index B of Kronberg and Nesbitt, and the Ba/Sr and Rb/Sr ratio. Depth profiles of "Sr-type indices" (e.g. Ba/Sr, Rb/Sr) are likely to be influenced by the dynamics of secondary carbonate. On the other hand, common "Na-type indices" (e.g. CIA, PIA, CIW) may suffer from uncertainties in separating carbonate-Ca from silicate-Ca or from biases due to K-fixation (illitization). The CPA is insensitive against such effects. Additionally, using the CPA (as with other Na-type indices) provides the possibility to evaluate the homogeneity of the parent material regarding the relevant host minerals via the A-CN-K diagram. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
The initial out of Africa dispersal of Homo sapiens, which saw anatomically modern humans reach the Levant in Marine Isotope Stage 5, is generally regarded as a 'failed dispersal'. Fossil, archaeological and genetic findings are seen to converge around a consensus view that a single population of H. sapiens exited Africa sometime around 60 thousand years ago (ka), and rapidly reached Australia by following a coastal dispersal corridor. We challenge the notion that current evidence supports this straightforward model. We argue that the fossil and archaeological records are too incomplete, the coastal route too problematic, and recent genomic evidence too incompatible for researchers not to remain fully open to other hypotheses. We specifically explore the possibility of a sustained exit by anatomically modern humans, drawing in particular upon palaeoenvironmental data across southern Asia to demonstrate its feasibility. Current archaeological, genetic and fossil data are not incompatible with the model presented, and appear to increasingly favour a more complex out of Africa scenario involving multiple exits, varying terrestrial routes, a sub-divided African source population, slower progress to Australia, and a degree of interbreeding with archaic varieties of Homo. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Runoff has been in decline in most river basins in China during the last 50 years. The Weihe River, the largest tributary of the Yellow River, has experienced runoff declines as large as 35% in the last century. Little is known regarding the relative contributions of climate and human impact to the observed hydrological trends in the Weihe River Basin. In the present paper, data from seven hydrological stations and 21 meteorological stations are used to analyze the long-term trends of precipitation, temperature, and streamflow. Using the daily climatic data, a Variable Infiltration capacity (VIC) hydrological model is calibrated and verified to a baseline period from 1956 to 1970. Subsequently, natural runoff for the following years (1971-2006) is reconstructed using the VIC model without considering local human impacts. On the basis of observed meteorological data and runoff and the reconstructed runoff data from 1971 to 2006 in the Weihe River Basin, we quantified long-term trends and decadal and annual variations. The results showed that precipitation and runoff have decreased since the baseline decade. We further estimated the relative contributions of human activity and climate change to the hydrological response of the Weihe River Basin and determined that human activity (such as large-scale soil conservation practices and large irrigation areas) has a greater impact on basin runoff than do climate change factors. The percentages in change of runoff due to climate change (PC) are 36%, 28%, 53% and 10% in the 1970s, 1980s 1990s and 2000s, respectively. The percentages in change of runoff caused by human activity (PH) are 64%, 72%, 47%, and 90%, respectively. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
The Mediterranean climate and its variability depend on global-scale climate patterns. Close correlations appear when comparing Holocene palaeoenvironmental data (lake levels, fluvial activity, Mediterranean surface temperature and salinity, marine sedimentation) with the main stages of the history of the circum-Mediterranean vegetation. They indicate an evolution of the Mediterranean biome controlled by the climate and emphasize the teleconnections between the climate of the Mediterranean area and the global climatic system. In the circum-Mediterranean area, the Holocene can be divided into three periods: a lower humid Holocene (11 500-7000 cal BP) interrupted by dry episodes; a transition phase (7000-5500 cal BP) during which occurred a decrease in insolation as well as the installation of the present atmosphere circulation in the northern hemisphere; and an upper Holocene (5500 cal BP-present) characterized by an aridification process. Throughout the Holocene, humans used and modified more or less strongly the environment but the climatic changes were the determining factors of the evolution of the Mediterranean biome. Societies had to adapt to natural environmental variations, their impact on the environment increasing the ecological consequences of the global changes. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) is widely used to refer to the episode when global ice volume last reached its maximum and associated sea levels were at their lowest. However, the boundaries of the interval are ill-defined and the term and acronym have no formal stratigraphical basis. This is despite a previous proposal to define it as a chronozone in the marine records on the basis of oxygen isotopes and sea levels, spanning the interval 23-19 or 24-18 ka and centred on 21 ka. In terrestrial records the LGM is poorly represented since many sequences show a diachronous response to global climate changes during the last glacial cycle. For example, glaciers and ice sheets reached their maximum extents at widely differing times in different places. In fact, most terrestrial records display spatial variation in response to global climate fluctuations, and changes recorded on land are often diachronous, asynchronous or both, leading to difficulties in global correlation. However, variations in the global hydrological system during glacial cycles are recorded by atmospheric dust flux and this provides a signal of terrestrial changes. Whilst regional dust accumulation is recorded in loess deposits, global dust flux is best recorded in high-resolution polar ice-core records, providing an opportunity to define the LGM on land and establish a clear stratigraphical basis for its definition. On this basis, one option is to define the global LGM as an event between the top (end) of Greenland Interstadial 3 and the base (onset) of Greenland Interstadial 2, spanning the interval 27.540-23.340 ka (Greenland Stadial 3). This corresponds closely to the peak dust concentration in both the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores and to records of the global sea-level minima. This suggests that this definition includes not just the coldest and driest part of the last glacial cycle but also the peak in global ice volume. The later part of the LGM event is marked by Heinrich Event 2, which reflects the onset of the collapse of the Laurentide at c. 24 ka, together with other ice sheets in the North Atlantic region. A longer and later span for the LGM may be desirable, although defining this in chronostratigraphical terms is problematic. Whichever formal definition is chosen, this requires the contribution of the wider Quaternary community. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Pollen data from three off-site records and twenty-six on-site (archaeological) sites are reviewed to investigate the development of cultural landscapes through the history of the olive, walnut and chestnut trees in the Italian peninsula from the Late Glacial to late Holocene. The spread of these trees, which have been gathered or cultivated since ancient times, though not marked by high values in pollen diagrams, is an important indicator of increasing human activity and anthropization in the Mediterranean area. The sum of Olea, Juglans and Castanea percentages in pollen spectra constitutes the OJC curve. The off-site records discussed are core RF93-30 from the Adriatic Sea (last 7000 years), and cores PALB94-1E of Lago Albano and PNEM94-1B of Lago di Nemi, two lakes in the Latium region (last 13,000 years). The on-site records are located in several regions (Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Basilicata, Calabria, and Sicily) and in the Republic of San Marino. Their chronology spans approximately from the Bronze to the Renaissance ages, from 4200 to 500 BR The simultaneous presence of OJC in the off-sites and in all the archaeological sites confirms that these trees were widespread in the Italian peninsula during the last four millennia. The OJC pollen sum shows low values but Olea, Castanea and Juglans are common in Bronze age sites from northern Italy, when their percentages increase in the off-site records. In Hellenistic and Roman times, there are sharp increments of their curves in the off-sites, and values of Olea are especially high in archaeological sites of southern Italy. The highest values of OJC, especially due to Castanea, are found in records of the Middle ages. Juglans is significant but less frequent in both the archaeological sites and the off-sites. The cultivation of walnut and chestnut trees in pre-Roman times may have included local stands. The nurturing for wood may have had negative effects on pollen fallout while the flowering of plants was favoured to obtain fruits. As humans exploited the natural resources they interfered with the distribution of useful plants. The development of human environments in a modern sense, however, is a relatively recent phenomenon. It has largely caused the expansion of complex agrarian landscapes, including fields, pastures and groves. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
The emergence of alternative luminescence dating techniques, such as thermally transferred optically stimulated luminescence (TT-OSL), post-infrared infrared stimulated luminescence (pIR-IRSL) and OSL dating of individual quartz 'supergrains', has opened up new possibilities for establishing numerical age control on sedimentary deposits that exceed the traditional upper age limits of quartz OSL dating. In this study, we evaluate the reliability of these 'extended-range' luminescence dating techniques over Middle and Early Pleistocene timescales using two approaches: (i) a broad-scale synthesis of extended-range luminescence chronologies published so far as part of known-age comparison studies; (ii) a series of new TT-OSL and pIR-IRSL case studies at the palaeoanthropological sites of Galeria, Sima del Elefante and Gran Dolina (Atapuerca, Spain). The published known-age TT-OSL datasets (n = 82) and supergrain OSL datasets (n = 3) display good correspondence (i.e., suitably linear and proportion relationships) with associated age control. The known-age pIR-IRSL datasets (n = 228) display more inter-sample scatter, though there is general support for the reliability of more stringent pIR-IRSL protocols and multipleelevated temperature pIR-IRSL approaches over Late and Middle Pleistocene timescales. While these reliability assessments are encouraging, there remains a clear need for more widespread, known-age empirical assessments of extended-range luminescence techniques beyond similar to 300-400 ka. The ages obtained at Atapuerca using single-grain TT-OSL and pIR-IRSL measurement temperatures of 225 degrees C (pIR-IR225) are in agreement with independent age control over an age range spanning similar to 240-930 ka. In contrast, the pIR-IRSL chronologies obtained using a more stringent measurement temperature of 290 degrees C (pIR-IR290) consistently overestimate the expected ages of the Atapuerca sequences. The single-grain TTOSL ages obtained at Gran Dolina permit calculation of a new weighted mean age of 846 +/- 57 ka for the Homo antecessor palaeoanthropological horizon (unit TD6). The known-age Atapuerca case studies highlight the feasibility, and advantages, of applying TT-OSL dating at the single-grain scale of analysis and demonstrate that the suitability of pIR-IRSL dating protocols can vary significantly at a site or regional scale. Together, our analyses show that no single extended-range luminescence dating technique is likely to be universally applicable to all samples. Collectively, however, these approaches offer good potential for obtaining reliable chronologies, and they are likely to offer the greatest benefits when applied in tandem to individual samples. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Marked by a progressive increase in the amplitude of climate oscillations, an evolving waveform, and a shift towards a quasi-100 ky frequency, the Early-Middle Pleistocene transition (EMPT), previously known as the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (or Mid-Pleistocene Revolution) (1.4-0.4 Ma), represents a fundamental transformation in the Earth's climate state. The EMPT began with a substantial change in climate dynamics and ended with the Mid-Brunhes Event, signaling the establishment of a new steady state. The reasons for the EMPT while uncertain appear to involve a non-linear response of the Earth climate system. The physical and biotic responses to this transition, amplified by the growth of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets, have been profound. Two important chronostratigraphic markers characterize the EMPT, the Jaramillo Subchron (1.070-0.988 Ma) and the Matuyama-Brunhes Chron boundary (similar to 773 ka). The latter has been chosen as the primary guide for the Lower-Middle Pleistocene Subseries boundary, as it lies at the approximate midpoint of the EMPT and aids in global recognition both in marine and terrestrial deposits. The Jaramillo Subchron has received less attention, but the late Early Pleistocene is important in Europe because it saw the progressive transition from the Villafranchian to Galerian mammal faunas, and expansion of hominins into western and northern Europe. The Jaramillo Subchron is represented by Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 31 to 28, with MIS 30 already showing the asymmetrical (sawtooth) pattern characteristic of the Middle Pleistocene. Indeed, while variation in the 40-ky band (obliquity) remains strong throughout the EMPT, low frequency variability begins at around 1250-1200 ky, which coincides with a progressive increase in global ice volume. Against a backdrop of increasingly severe glacial cycles, notably during MIS 36, 34, 24-22 (the so-called "0.9 Ma event"), 16 and 12, pronounced phases of warming are also documented globally, including the "super-interglacial" MIS 31. The early phase of the EMPT is characterized by important glaciations beginning with MIS 36 and continuing to MIS 24-22, a major intensification of the East Asian monsoon system, intensification of loess deposition in northern Europe, development of open landscapes in western Siberia, increased fluvial incision, higher amplitude sea-level change, and spread of large mammals across northern Eurasia, and a strong reduction in the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation. In Europe, the loss of thermophilous plant taxa during the EMPT and indeed throughout the Quaternary is a reminder of the progressive cooling that took place here and elsewhere. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
This paper presents a new fossil pollen record from Tso Moriri (32 degrees 54'N, 78 degrees 19'E, 4512 m a.s.l.) and seeks to reconstruct changes in mean annual precipitation (MAP) during the last 12,000 years. This high-alpine lake occupies an area of 140 km(2) in a glacial-tectonic valley in the northwestern Himalaya. The region has a cold climate, with a MAP < 300 mm, and open vegetation. The hydrology is controlled by the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM), but winter westerly-associated precipitation also affects the regional water balance. Results indicate that precipitation levels varied significantly during the Holocene. After a rapid increase in MAP, a phase of maximum humidity was reached between ca. 11 and 9.6 cal ka BP, followed by a gradual decline in MAP. This trend parallels the reduction in the Northern Hemisphere summer insolation. Comparison of different palaeoclimate proxy records reveal evidence for a stronger Holocene decrease in precipitation in the northern versus the southern parts of the ISM domain. The long-term trend of ISM weakening is overlaid with several short periods of greater dryness, which are broadly synchronous with the North Atlantic cold spells, suggesting reduced amounts of westerly-associated winter precipitation. Compared to the mid and late Holocene, it appears that westerlies had a greater influence on the western parts of the ISM domain during the early Holocene. During this period, the westerly-associated summer precipitation belt was positioned at Mediterranean latitudes and amplified the ISM-derived precipitation. The Tso Moriri pollen record and moisture reconstructions also suggest that changes in climatic conditions affected the ancient Harappan Civilisation, which flourished in the greater Indus Valley from approximately 5.2 to 3 cal ka BP. The prolonged Holocene trend towards aridity, punctuated by an interval of increased dryness (between ca. 4.5 and 4.3 cal ka BP), may have pushed the Mature Harappan urban settlements (between ca. 4.5 and 3.9 cal ka BP) to develop more efficient agricultural practices to deal with the increasingly acute water shortages. The amplified aridity associated with North Atlantic cooling between ca. 4 and 3.6 and around 3.2 cal ka BP further hindered local agriculture, possibly causing the deurbanisation that occurred from ca. 3.9 cal ka BP and eventual collapse of the Harappan Civilisation between ca. 3.5 and 3 cal ka BP. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
The effect of cellular structure in the flexible polyurethane foams on the sound absorption behavior is investigated for improved sound environment within vehicles. Two types of gelling catalyst and water are used for producing well-defined cavity and pore structure in the foams. The catalyst, having high activity in urethane reaction, produces a larger number of small cavities and pores in the foams compared to the catalyst having low activity. A high number of small cavities can also be obtained at high water content from the restraint of neighboring cavities due to actively formed urethane matrix. The foam density decreases with increasing water and catalyst contents. Sound absorption efficiency is usually low at low foam density, but the results show improved sound absorption efficiency even at the reduced foam density because of the high number of well dispersed small cells in the foams. Keywords: Polyurethane foams, Catalysts, Water, Sound absorption coefficient
Trends and abrupt detection of temperature and precipitation extremes are important in climate change research. Based on the meteorological data from 68 stations in the arid region of Northwest China (ARNC), we analyzed the trend and abrupt change in temperature and precipitation extremes from 1961 to 2010. Results showed that abrupt change in both temperature and precipitation extremes in Northwest China occurred in around 1986. Interestingly, an abrupt change in Index B of the Tibetan Plateau (TPI_B) was detected in 1985. The temperature and precipitation extremes had strong and significant associations with TPI_B over the period of 1961-2010 (R = 0.685, p < 0.01, and R = 0.441, p < 0.01, respectively). They behaved consistently, with a weakening and decreasing trend from 1961 to 1984 and a strengthening and increasing trend from 1985 to 2010. Thus, TPI_B was probably an important factor in the abrupt change in both temperature and precipitation extremes in the ARNC. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
In this paper we present a review of the available Holocene pollen records from the Spanish Central System (113 sites and 150 C-14 dates). Palynological data obtained from pollen analyses of peat-bogs, lakes and archaeological sites, as well as radiocarbon dating, were used to infer the human impact on vegetation and landscape during the last 9 millennia. The Neolithic contribution to the configuration of landscape is scarce, limited to the valleys, while Chalcolithic settlements and their related activities (agriculture and grazing) represent the first evidence of significant human impact on the high-mountains. The pollen record has allowed us to relate two cultural periods of changing, the Copper Age-Early Bronze Age and Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age transitions, to abrupt climate disruptions, the so-called 4.2 and 2.8 ka cal BP events respectively. From the Iron Age to the Early Middle Ages, anthropic activities were still sporadic, mainly located in the lowlands, but from the Feudal Period onwards, when La Mesta transhumance system takes place, high-mountain landscapes changed dramatically. Late Modern Period brings a further intensification of human pressure, especially related to forestry, with widespread pinewood afforestation. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Marine molluscs have been recovered from sites around the Mediterranean Sea dating as far back as the Lower Palaeolithic, when hominins might have started consuming them (ca. 300 ka). During the Middle Palaeolithic and the early Upper Palaeolithic, humans (Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens) ate molluscs at many sites across the Mediterranean at least as early as the Last Interglacial, although the scale of this exploitation is still unclear, due to biases produced in the coastal archaeological record by Late Glacial and post-Glacial sea level rise. The exploitation of marine molluscs apparently increased in the Late Glacial and Early Holocene, when humans collected them in relatively large quantities and from all available ecosystems. The consumption of shellfish, and of other small animals (aquatic and continental), probably contributed to the success of the flexible and opportunistic subsistence strategies adopted by Mediterranean hunter gatherers for much of prehistory. This is particularly evident in later foraging economic systems (i.e. late Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic), in which coastal resources probably acted as buffers against the negative outcomes of environmental and anthropogenic impacts on available resources. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
The interpretation of the stalagmite delta O-18 record from southern China as an indicator of East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) rainfall amount or intensity is strongly debated. Soil development in the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP), situated in the modern summer monsoon domain, has long been treated as a direct and reliable EASM proxy. In this study, we compiled 81 loess and 229 palaeosol dates from 77 profiles across the CLP and synthesized the data statistically in order to investigate the EASM history during the Holocene. The resulting history of Holocene loess deposition and palaeosol development demonstrates that: (1) loess deposition decreased and palaeosol formation increased across the CLP after 11.5 ka (1 ka = 1000 cal yr BP), revealing a gradually intensified EASM during the early Holocene; (2) numerous palaeosols developed in the CLP between 8.8 ka and 3.4 ka, indicating a generally strong EASM during the mid-Holocene; (3) the number of palaeosol dates decreased rapidly at around 3 ka, suggesting a sudden retreat of the EASM in the late Holocene. These trends of EASM evolution are broadly consistent with variations in aeolian sand activity in the four main sandlands (the Mu Us, Otindag, Horqin and Hulun Buir sandlands) along the modern monsoon fringe in northern China, and are supported by a wide range of independent evidence. In addition we also found that high loess deposition and stronger aeolian activity occurred at similar to 5 ka, representing a weak EASM event within the context of an overall strong mid-Holocene EASM. The strong mid-Holocene EASM, revealed by palaeosol development in the CLP and aeolian sand activity in the sandlands in northern China, contrasts with the early Holocene EASM maximum suggested by stalagmite delta O-18 data from southern China. Our results are compatible with the proposal that the stalagmite delta O-18 variations in China do not result from changes in EASM rainfall amount or intensity, but instead reflect changes in moisture source driven by variations in atmospheric-oceanic circulation. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
The Gravettian site of Predmosti I in the central Moravian Plain has yielded a rich and diverse large mammal fauna dated around 25-27,000 C-14 years BP (ca. 29,500-31,500 cal BP). This fauna includes numerous carnivores (cave lion, wolf, brown bear, polar fox, wolverine) and herbivores (reindeer, large bovine, red deer, muskox, horse, woolly rhinoceros, woolly mammoth) whose trophic position could be reconstructed using stable isotopic tracking (delta C-13, delta N-15, delta S-34) of bone collagen (n = 63). Among large canids, two morphotypes, "Pleistocene wolves" and "Palaeolithic dogs", were considered, and two human bones attributed to the Gravettian assemblage of Predmosti I were also sampled. The trophic system around the Gravettian settlement of Predmosti I showed the typical niche partitioning among herbivores and carnivores seen in other mammoth-steppe contexts. The contribution of the analyzed prey species to the diet of the predators, including humans, was evaluated using a Bayesian mixing model (SIAR). Lions included great amounts of reindeer/muskox and possibly bison in their diet, while Pleistocene wolves were more focused on horse and possibly mammoth. Strong reliance on mammoth meat was found for the human of the site, similarly to previously analyzed individuals from other Gravettian sites in Moravia. Interestingly, the large canids interpreted as "Palaeolithic dogs" had a high proportion of reindeer/muskox in their diet, while consumption of mammoth would be expected from the availability of this prey especially in case of close interaction with humans. The peculiar isotopic composition of the Palaeolithic dogs of Predmosti I may indicate some control of their dietary intake by Gravettian people, who could have use them more for transportation than hunting purpose. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.
Published and new data exist for relative sea-level change for 105 locations (127 samples) during the late Holocene, along the Italian (and Istrian) coasts. These data, compared with predictions (derived from two different models associated with the last glacial cycle) allowed the calculation of the tectonic vertical movements. They are based on precise measures of geomorphological and archaeological markers between 0.4 and 12.6 ka cal. BP, sampled at elevations between +7 and -51 m. In order to decipher the broad pattern of Holocene tectonic vertical movements along the Italian coastline, these data were compared with predicted sea-level curves using the most recent models published for the Mediterranean sea. Tectonic rates varied from -4.85 mm/a, in a core at Sybaris, to 5 mm/a, in the volcanic areas of Pozzuoli and Pantelleria. New MIS 5.5 (125 ka) data, mostly from the Venetian plain, are reported. In particular the depth of the base of MIS 5.5 paralic deposits found in four cores near Venezia provides a mean subsidence of 0.62 mm/a. New, precise mass spectrometer U-Th analyses on Cladocora layers from the bottom of a long core (named ENEA), indicate older ages (195.7 +/- 1.6 and 161.2 +/- 1.2 ka, respectively), relative to the published MIS 5.5 ages, which were based on alpha-counting U-Th data. Instrumental data obtained from tide gauges and repeated levelling measurements from the NE Adriatic and Sicily are also considered. These methods have one great advantage with respect to continuous GPS measurements and the satellite altimetric observations, in that a much greater time span is available. Although the altimetric measurements are available for 16 years, and the GPS for less than a decade, repeated levelling lines cover up to 50 years and tide gauge observations in some cases to 100 years or more. The greater time span allows for more stable differential rate estimates. The repeated levelling shows that the plain east of Mestre is subsiding (to -4 mm/a). The Messina tidal gauge demonstrates a total coseismic and post-seismic subsidence of 77 cm associated with the event of 1908, the post-seismic phase lasting for at least 13 years. The Reggio Calabria tidal station points to an uplift of this station relative to Palermo in the order of 1-2 mm/a. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.