EGU23-14517, updated on 10 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A Miocene (23–12.5 Ma) continental paleotemperature record from the northern Mediterranean region (Digne-Valensole Basin, SE France)

Armelle Ballian1,2, Maud J. M. Meijers3, Katharina Methner4, Isabelle Cojan5, Damien Huyghe5, Jens Fiebig2, and Andreas Mulch1,2
Armelle Ballian et al.
  • 1Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 2Institute of Geosciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 3Institute of Earth Sciences, NAWI Graz Geocenter, University of Graz, Austria
  • 4Institute of Geophysics and Geology, University Leipzig, Germany
  • 5Centre de Géosciences, MINES-ParisTech, Fontainebleau, France

During the Middle Miocene the Earth’s climate shifted from a warm phase, the Miocene Climatic Optimum (MCO, 16.9–14.7 Ma), to a colder phase associated with the formation of major and permanent Antarctic ice sheets. This climatic shift, the Middle Miocene Climatic Transition (MMCT, 14.7–13.8 Ma), had significant impact on the composition and structure of major biomes (e.g. Jimenez-Moreno & Suc, 2007) and impacted worldwide ocean circulation (Holbourn et al., 2014) as well as terrestrial temperature and precipitation patterns (e.g. Methner et al., 2020). While the MCO and the subsequent MMCT are well described in marine records, quantitative continental paleoclimate records are still lacking when it comes to constraining the magnitude and rate of terrestrial environmental change. Collectively, δ18O, δ13C and Δ47 data from soil carbonates provide information about past environmental and climatic conditions, such as (seasonality of) precipitation, soil temperature as well as vegetation patterns. The formation of soil carbonates is mainly controlled by the interplay of environmental factors such as soil water composition, soil temperature, and soil CO2. We compare the stable (δ18O, δ13C) and clumped (Δ47) isotopic composition of pedogenic carbonate nodules of the Digne-Valensole Basin (SE France) with time equivalent counterparts from central Europe (Northern Alpine Molasse Basin, Switzerland) and present a ca. 23 – 12.5 Ma biostratigraphically-controlled clumped isotope paleotemperature record from the SW-foreland of the European Alps. Alluvial fan deposition and soil formation in the Digne-Valensole Basin occurred near sea level as documented by the intercalation of marine and continental facies (Cojan et al., 2013). Our Δ47 results from the Digne-Valensole Basin indicate relatively warm and stable carbonate formation temperatures (ca. 32°C) for the Early Miocene (23–19.5 Ma) followed by enhanced temperature fluctuations attaining maximum values at the onset of the MCO. The Digne-Valensole temperature pattern correlates with age-equivalent Δ47 temperatures from the Northern Alpine Foreland Basin. In both records, significant climatic changes can be observed at the onset of the MCO and the MMCT, which are documented by major rapid shifts in paleotemperatures (ca. 15°C within 300 ka). However, the proximity to the Mediterranean Basin is clearly visible in the Digne-Valensole records as expressed in rather high δ18O values of meteoric water that average ca. −3.5 ‰. Combining our data with the Northern Alpine foreland records results in a coherent climate pattern for the Alpine foreland during the Middle Miocene.


Cojan et al. (2013)

Holbourn et al. (2014)

Jimenez-Moreno & Suc (2007)

Methner et al. (2020)


How to cite: Ballian, A., Meijers, M. J. M., Methner, K., Cojan, I., Huyghe, D., Fiebig, J., and Mulch, A.: A Miocene (23–12.5 Ma) continental paleotemperature record from the northern Mediterranean region (Digne-Valensole Basin, SE France), EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14517,, 2023.

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material file