EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Holocene paleoenvironmental evolution of a playa-lake system in southwestern Iberia (western Mediterranean region)

Antonio Garcia Alix1,2, Gonzalo Jiménez Moreno1, Fernando Gázquez3,4, Ricardo Monedero-Contreras2, Alejandro López-Avilés1, Francisco J. Jiménez-Espejo2,5, Miguel Rodríguez-Rodríguez6, Jon Camuera7, María José Ramos-Román7, and R. Scott Anderson8
Antonio Garcia Alix et al.
  • 1University of Granada, Department of Stratigraphy and Paleontology, Granada, Spain (
  • 2Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (IACT), CISC-UGR, Armilla, Spain
  • 3Water Resources and Environmental Geology Research Group, Department of Biology and Geology. University of Almería, Almeria, Spain
  • 4Andalusian Centre for the Monitoring and Assessment of Global Change (CAESCG), University of Almería, Spain
  • 5Biogeochemistry Program, JAMSTEC, Yokosuka, Japan
  • 6Physical, Chemical and Natural Systems, University Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain
  • 7Department of Geosciencies and Geography, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 8School of Earth and Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA

The Mediterranean region is a vulnerable area affected, among other environmental threats, by aridification and desertification processes that can cause soil salinization in areas rich in evaporite deposits. This is especially evident in the evaporite lake systems of southern Iberia, where a combination of both natural and anthropogenic causes gives rise to aridification and land degradation. In this study, we performed a multiproxy analysis (magnetic susceptibility, lithology, bulk organic geochemistry, inorganic geochemistry, and mineralogy) in the sedimentary record of the Laguna de la Ballestera playa-lake in southwestern Iberia in order to reconstruct the environmental evolution of this evaporitic area and potential human impacts during the Holocene. The most humid period registered in the Laguna de la Ballestera record was the Early Holocene with significant catchment runoff and high lake water levels. The lake size, lake level and catchment runoff decreased throughout the Middle and Late Holocene. This aridification trend is especially evident in the Late Holocene when gypsum precipitation enhanced. The highest gypsum contents were registered in the last millennium, especially after 1600 cal yr CE, probably related to important changes in the hydrology of the area, shifting from a (semi) permanent to a temporal and seasonal hydrological regime. These trends represent the local environmental responses to the western Mediterranean climate during the Holocene. The studied proxies did not evidence any potential human impact until the last century, when the catchment runoff and the playa-lake hydroperiod changed, probably related to changes in the land use.

How to cite: Garcia Alix, A., Jiménez Moreno, G., Gázquez, F., Monedero-Contreras, R., López-Avilés, A., Jiménez-Espejo, F. J., Rodríguez-Rodríguez, M., Camuera, J., Ramos-Román, M. J., and Anderson, R. S.: Holocene paleoenvironmental evolution of a playa-lake system in southwestern Iberia (western Mediterranean region), EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-7560,, 2022.