Scientific article

Tyrrhenian coastal deposits from Sardinia (Italy): a petrographic record of high sea levels and shifting climate belts during the last interglacial (isotopic substage 5e)

Published inPalaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology, vol. 133, no. 1, p. 1-25
Publication date1997

Detailed petrographic and sedimentological analysis of Tyrrhenian coastal deposits from four sites in Sardinia provides new data about climate and sea-level changes during the early part of the last interglacial (isotopic substage 5e) and shows that facies analysis is not only useful for the identification of ancient depositional environments, but also represents a powerful tool for evaluating past climatic conditions and sea-level forcing mechanisms. Two shallowing-upward sequences (sensu Ward, W.C., Brady, M. J., 1979. Strandline sedimentation of carbonate grainstones, Upper Pleistocene, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Am. Assoc. Pet. Geol. Bull. 63, 362-369), commonly separated by an erosion surface and displaying complex geometric relationships, occur above modern sea level at several locations along the shorelines of Sardinia. These sequences include upper shoreface to backshore deposits and were formed during separate sea-level highstands attributed to isotopic substage 5e. Our recent revision of these deposits indicates that each sequence presents distinctive petrographic characteristics. The older succession essentially contains mixed calcarenites, rich in quartz grains and lithic fragments, whereas the younger sediments are dominated by carbonate bioclasts such as red algae, coral and mollusk fragments. Both units apparently accumulated in a similar depositional setting, but during different climatic regimes. The petrography of the lower unit reflects a temperate-humid period characterized by increased weathering and continental erosion, whereas the composition of the upper one suggests a dryer, and possibly warmer, climate favoring active carbonate production. The disparity in petrographic composition between sequences probably records the migration of atmospheric circulation cells, i.e. a shift of climate belts, before and after the ~128-ka insolation maximum. Our climatic data are coherent with the calculated insolation curves for isotopic substage 5e and thus support the Milankovitch hypothesis for the origin of Pleistocene climates. In contrast, our sedimentological data clearly show the occurence of two distinctive highstands of sea level during this time period, which does not agree with the hypothesis. It follows that the relation between orbitally induced insolation variations, climate and sea level is not necessarily straightforward.

  • Sardinia
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Tyrrhenian
  • Sedimentary petrology
  • Eustacy
  • Paleoclimatology
Citation (ISO format)
KINDLER, Pascal, DAVAUD, Eric Jean, STRASSER, Andréas. Tyrrhenian coastal deposits from Sardinia (Italy): a petrographic record of high sea levels and shifting climate belts during the last interglacial (isotopic substage 5e). In: Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology, 1997, vol. 133, n° 1, p. 1–25. doi: 10.1016/S0031-0182(97)00028-X
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0031-0182

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