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The Holocene deposits of Lake Petit (2200 m a.s.l., Southern French Alps) : climatic and anthropogenic controls on mountain sediment dynamics ?

Abstract : Numerous archaeological studies carried out in high-elevation areas of the Southern French Alps have documented ancient human occupation of mountains, mainly characterized by pastoral and mining activities. Besides, the area was affected by both continental and Mediterranean climate instability throughout the Holocene. Lake Petit, located in the Mercantour massif, was investigated in order to reconstruct past interactions between humans, the environment and climate, using a multidisciplinary approach. This study was carried out on a 144 cm-long gravity core providing a continuous record spanning the last 5000 years. Our multi-proxy investigation (sedimentological, geochemical and palynological analyses), allowed us to reconstruct three main phases, evidencing a progressive destabilization of the local environment. The first phase (ca. 4800 to 4300 cal. BP) was characterized by relatively stable environmental conditions, as attested by a high lake productivity (deposition of pure diatomite) and by the local presence of trees (presence of conifer stomata). The second phase (ca. 4300 to 1500 cal. BP) could correspond to a drastic cleaning of landscapes since the lake record highlights an abrupt switch in sediment source marked by an input of terrestrial organic matter. Regular occurrences of anthropogenic pollen assemblages might indicate early pastoral activity in the lake vicinity, while wetter conditions characteristic of the Neoglacial period may have trigger hillslopes destabilization. The most recent phase (since ca. 1500 cal. BP) is marked by a final degradation of the environment: the lake productivity dramatically decreased contemporaneously with a fall of the AP/NAP pollen curve. This phase also exhibits the highest values of anthropogenic pollen taxa and concentrations of lead. It undoubtedly corresponded to one of an intensive agro-pastoral pressure as well to local mining activities.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 10:19:53 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 3:22:04 PM

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  • HAL Id : halsde-00751273, version 1

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Elodie Brisset, Frédéric Guiter, Cécile Miramont, Fabien Arnaud, Claire Delhon, et al.. The Holocene deposits of Lake Petit (2200 m a.s.l., Southern French Alps) : climatic and anthropogenic controls on mountain sediment dynamics ?. International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA), Jul 2011, Bern, Switzerland. ⟨halsde-00751273⟩

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