Early to Middle Holocene hydroclimate changes in the Guern El Louläilet depressions, Algerian Sahara

Nassima Yahiaoui*, Bouhameur Mansour, Christos Katrantsiotis, Jan Risberg, Paula J. Reimer, M’hammed Mahboubi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Fossil diatoms and litho-stratigraphic changes in the Guern El Louläilet depressions, NW of the Great Western Erg, Algeria, were analysed to infer paleoenvironmental changes in the northern Algerian Sahara during the Early and Middle Holocene. Analysis was based on calcareous diatomite collected from four outcrops within the depressions. The diatom flora consists of brackish and epiphytic taxa, such as Epithemia argus, with percentages of some freshwater and planktonic species, mainly Cyclotella distinguenda. Results provide evidence for two Holocene lacustrine episodes related to the African Humid Period. The first episode (Early to Middle Holocene) was characterized by abrupt development of shallow-water conditions, with extensive littoral zones and evaporative periods that coincided with high salt concentrations in warm, alkaline water (swampy conditions). A second episode (Middle to Late Holocene?), with brackish water and alkaline conditions, coincided with a decline in lake water level that is attributed to drier conditions. Our findings are consistent with those of other studies from the area and demonstrate similar environmental changes occurred after 9300 cal yr BP at sites within the region. The main drivers of the African Humid Period were the northward shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and expansion of summer monsoonal rains. Our study sites were located in the northern Sahara, where variations in the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) did not affect rainfall. Early and Middle Holocene climate fluctuations detected in this study may have been caused by intensification of winter precipitation in the south-central Mediterranean and its penetration southward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-183
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Early online date09 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was made possible by the Algerian Direction Générale de la Recherche Scientifique et du Développement Technologique (DGRSDT). Field work was financially supported by the Laboratory of Paleontology Sratigraphic and Paleo-environment (University of Oran 2). We are grateful to Marianne Ahlbom at the Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, where SEM analysis was done. We thank Mammeri Cheikh for discovering the site. We also wish to thank M. Belkeiri, M. Mammeri and D. Bouachi for assistance during fieldwork.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • African Humid Period
  • Diatoms
  • Great Western Erg
  • Holocene
  • Paleolakes
  • Shallow lake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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