Quaternary Glaciation in the Mediterranean (co-organized)
|Convener: Philip Hughes|
The glacial sediments and landforms of the Mediterranean mountains form a unique archive of environmental change of global significance. They represent one of the clearest expressions of Quaternary climate change between the Alps and the Sahara. Their southerly latitude and relatively small size made Mediterranean glaciers especially sensitive to Pleistocene and Holocene climate changes. These glaciers formed one part of the complex mosaic of upland environments that formed important refugia for many plant and animal species during Pleistocene cold stages. The glacial record is often very well preserved and can be dated using several methods. The first uranium series ages for Middle Pleistocene glacial deposits in Greece were published in 2004 – the last decade has seen rapid growth in research into the glacial history of the entire Mediterranean region. Our understanding of the timing of glaciation during the Middle and Late Pleistocene has been transformed by uranium-series and cosmogenic isotope dating. The glacial geomorphological record has also been utilised to generate estimates of cold stage precipitation and temperature.
Whilst marked spatial and temporal contrasts in the extent of Mediterranean mountain glaciation have been recognised, there is still little published information on Middle Pleistocene glaciation for many parts of the region and even the timing of glaciation during the last cold stage remains contentious. The waxing and waning of Mediterranean glaciers during the course of the Quaternary also had a profound influence on the hydrology and sediment budgets of glaciated river basins from the uplands to the coastal zone. The thick deposits of outwash gravels and sands in many river valleys are a major legacy of headwater glaciation. Luminescence dating has been employed to establish the age of glacial-fluvial sediments downstream of the former ice margins.
This session will explore recent advances in Mediterranean glacial research and identify the key gaps in our knowledge. Papers on the following themes are especially welcome: the geochronology of Mediterranean glacial sediments and landforms; records of Middle Pleistocene glaciation; the impact of glacial activity on long-term river behaviour and sediment supply; linkages between glacial activity and lacustrine environments; the palaeoclimatic significance of the Quaternary glacial record; long-term interactions between glacial and karst systems; regional comparisons of glacial history; studies of Holocene (including Little Ice Age and modern glacier dynamics) glaciation in the Mediterranean; novel approaches to mapping glacial landscapes in the Mediterranean mountains using satellite remote sensing, LIDAR etc.