Late Pleistocene climate change and landscape dynamics in the Eastern Alps: the inner-alpine Unterangerberg record (Austria)

Reinhard Starnberger*, Ruth Drescher-Schneider, Juergen M. Reitner, Helena Rodnight, Paula J. Reimer, Christoph Spoetl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Drill cores from the inner-alpine valley terrace of Unterangerberg, located in the Eastern Alps of Austria, offer first insights into a Pleistocene sedimentary record that was not accessible so far. The succession comprises diamict, gravel, sand, lignite and thick, fine grained sediments. Additionally, cataclastic deposits originating from two paleo-landslide events are present. Multi-proxy analyses including sedimentological and palynological investigations as well as radiocarbon and luminescence data record the onset of the last glacial period (Wurmian) at Unterangerberg at similar to 120-110 ka. This first time period, correlated to the MIS 5d, was characterised by strong fluvial aggradation under cold climatic conditions, with only sparse vegetation cover. Furthermore, two large and quasi-synchronous landslide events occurred during this time interval. No record of the first Early Wiirmian interstadial (MIS 5c) is preserved. During the second Early Wiirmian interstadial (MIS 5a), the local vegetation was characterised by a boreal forest dominated by Picea, with few thermophilous elements. The subsequent collapse of the vegetation is recorded by sediments dated to similar to 70-60 ka (i.e. MIS 4), with very low pollen concentrations and the potential presence of permafrost. Climatic conditions improved again between similar to 55 and 45 ka (MIS 3) and cold-adapted trees re-appeared during interstadials, forming an open forest vegetation. MIS 3 stadials were shorter and less severe than the MIS 4 at Unterangerberg, and vegetation during these cold phases was mainly composed of shrubs, herbs and grasses, similar to what is known from today's alpine timberline. The Unterangerberg record ended at similar to 45 ka and/or was truncated by ice during the Last Glacial Maximum. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-42
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume68
Early online date16 Mar 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2013

Keywords

  • VEGETATION RESPONSE
  • LAST GLACIAL PERIOD
  • European Alps
  • Stratigraphy
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Lake sediments
  • Luminescence dating
  • Pollen analysis
  • CENTRAL-EUROPE
  • STALAGMITE EVIDENCE
  • OXYGEN-ISOTOPE STAGE-3
  • MAMMOTH SITE
  • MILLENNIAL-SCALE VARIABILITY
  • PROGLACIAL SEDIMENTS
  • LAKE-SEDIMENTS
  • ICE-CORE RECORD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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