Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Diatom-oxygen isotope record from high-altitude Lake Petit (2200 m a.s.l.) in the Mediterranean Alps: shedding light on a climatic pulse at 4.2 ka

Abstract : In the Mediterranean area, the 4.2 ka BP event is recorded with contrasting expressions between regions. In the southern Alps, the high-altitude Lake Petit (Mercantour Massif, France; 2200 m a.s.l.) offers pollen and diatom-rich sediments covering the last 4800 years. A multi-proxy analysis recently revealed a detrital pulse around 4200 cal BP due to increasing erosion in the lake catchment. The involvement of a rapid climate change leading to increasing runoff and soil erosion was proposed. Here, in order to clarify this hypothesis , we measured the oxygen isotope composition of diatom silica frustules (δ 18 O diatom) from the same sedimen-tary core. Diatoms were analysed by laser fluorination isotope ratio mass spectrometry after an inert gas flow dehydration. We additionally enhanced the accuracy of the age-depth model using the Bacon R package. The δ 18 O diatom record allows us to identify a 500-year time lapse, from 4400 to 3900 cal BP, where δ 18 O diatom reached its highest values (> 31 ‰). δ 18 O diatom was about 3 ‰ higher than the modern values and the shifts at 4400 and 3900 cal BP were of similar amplitude as the seasonal δ 18 O diatom shifts occurring today. This period of high δ 18 O diatom values can be explained by the intensification of 18 O-enriched Mediterranean precipitation events feeding the lake during the ice-free season. This agrees with other records from the southern Alps suggesting runoff intensification around 4200 cal BP. Possible changes in other climatic parameters may have played a concomi-tant role, including a decrease in the contribution of 18 O-depleted Atlantic winter precipitation to the lake water due to snow deficit. Data recording the 4.2 ka BP event in the northwestern Mediterranean area are still sparse. In the Lake Pe-tit watershed, the 4.2 ka BP event translated into a change in precipitation regime from 4400 to 3900 cal BP. This record contributes to the recent efforts to characterize and investigate the geographical extent of the 4.2 ka BP event in the Mediterranean area.
Complete list of metadata

Cited literature [68 references]  Display  Hide  Download
Contributor : Anne Alexandre <>
Submitted on : Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 1:13:54 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 10:22:20 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 3:19:03 PM


Cartier et al. - 2019 - Diatom...
Publisher files allowed on an open archive


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License



Rosine Cartier, Florence Sylvestre, Christine Paillès, Corinne Sonzogni, Martine Couapel, et al.. Diatom-oxygen isotope record from high-altitude Lake Petit (2200 m a.s.l.) in the Mediterranean Alps: shedding light on a climatic pulse at 4.2 ka. Climate of the Past, European Geosciences Union (EGU), 2019, 15 (1), pp.253-263. ⟨10.5194/cp-15-253-2019⟩. ⟨hal-02010676⟩



Record views


Files downloads