EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Luminescence age constraints on the Pleistocene-Holocene transition recorded in loess sequences

Daniela Constantin1, Stefana-Madalina Sacaciu1,2, Viorica Tecsa1,2, Anca Avram1,2, Robert Begy1,2, Szabolcs Kelemen1,2, Daniel Veres1,3, Cristian Panaiotu4, Liping Zhou5, Joseph Mason6, Slobodan Marković7, Ulrich Hambach8, Natalia Gerasimenko9, and Alida Timar-Gabor1,2
Daniela Constantin et al.
  • 1Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Bio-Nano-Sciences, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • 2Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • 3Romanian Academy, Institute of Speleology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • 4Faculty of Physics, University of Bucharest, Romania
  • 5Department of Geography, Peking University, China
  • 6Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • 7Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
  • 8BayCEER & Chair of Geomorphology, University of Bayreuth, Germany
  • 9Earth Sciences and Geomorphology Department, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine

Here we investigate the timing of the last glacial loess - Holocene soil transition recorded in loess-paleosol sequences across the Chinese Loess Plateau, the SE European loess belt and the Central Great Plains, Nebraska, USA by applying comparative luminescence dating techniques on quartz and feldspars. Equivalent dose measurements were carried out using the single-aliquot regenerative-dose (SAR) protocol on silt (4–11 μm) and sand-sized (63–90 μm and coarser fraction when available) quartz. Feldspar infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) emitted by 4–11 μm polymineral grains was measured using the post IR-IRSL290 technique.

The paleoenvironmental transition from the last glacial loess to the current interglacial soil was characterized using magnetic susceptibility and its frequency dependence. Based on the OSL ages and the threshold of the magnetic signal enhancement the onset of soil formation started around Termination 1 (~17 ka in the North Atlantic) as observed in radiocarbon-dated regional benthic δ18O stacks (Stern and Lisiecki, 2014) but before the stratigraphic Pleistocene/Holocene transition dated at 11.7 ka in ice core records (Svensson et al., 2008).

No major hiatuses in ages are identified in the investigated sites. A change in the sedimentation rate is generally observed at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition and no significant sedimentation change during the Holocene. Sedimentation rates of around 6 cm/ka are determined for the Holocene soil in most of the sites investigated.

The magnetic susceptibility indicates a gradual increase in pedogenesis after Termination 1 (∼17 ka in the North Atlantic). Based on this, we infer that the upbuilding soil formation prevailed over topdown soil formation during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in the investigated sites (Roberts, 2008).



Roberts, H.M., 2008. The development and application of luminescence dating to loess deposits: a perspective on the past, present and future. Boreas 37, 483-507.

Svensson, A., Andersen, K.K., Bigler, M., Clausen, H.B., Dahl-Jensen, D., Davies, S.M., Johnsen, S.J., Muscheler, R., Parrenin, F., Rasmussen, S.O., Röthlisberger, R., Seierstad, I., Steffensen, J.P., Vinther, B.M., 2008.A 60 000 year Greenland stratigraphic ice core chronology. Climate of the Past 4, 47-57.

Stern, J.V., Lisiecki, L.E., 2014. Termination 1 timing in radiocarbon-dated regional benthic δ18O stacks. Paleoceanography 29, 1127-1142.


This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme ERC-2015-STG (grant agreement No [678106]).

How to cite: Constantin, D., Sacaciu, S.-M., Tecsa, V., Avram, A., Begy, R., Kelemen, S., Veres, D., Panaiotu, C., Zhou, L., Mason, J., Marković, S., Hambach, U., Gerasimenko, N., and Timar-Gabor, A.: Luminescence age constraints on the Pleistocene-Holocene transition recorded in loess sequences, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-16957,, 2020