Holocene hydrological changes in the Rhône River (NW Mediterranean) as recorded in the marine mud belt

Our results show that  the early Holocene was characterized by high sediment delivery likely indicative of local intense rainfall events,  important sediment delivery around 7 ka cal BP presumably related to increased river flux,  a progressive increase in continental/marine input during the mid-Holocene despite increased distance from river outlets due to sea-level rise possibly related to higher atmospheric humidity caused by the southward migration of the storm tracks in the North Atlantic,  multidecadal to centennial humid events took place in the late Holocene

Maria-Angela Bassetti; Serge Berné; Marie-Alexandrine Sicre; Bernard Dennielou; Yoann Alonso; Roselyne Buscail; Bassem Jalali; Bertil Hebert; Christophe Menniti


Scholarcy highlights

  • The Holocene climate is characterized by centennial-scale climate changes that punctuated the final deglacial warming after the Younger Dryas
  • The bottom of the core corresponds to the ravinement surface that was formed by wave erosion at the time of marine flooding during the deglacial period
  • Two other distinct seismic surfaces can be recognized in the upper part of the wedge; they are dated to ca. 4.2 and 2.5 ka cal BP from the core
  • A Turritellarich interval is observed in the 8.5–8 ka cal BP interval, which could correspond to a change in Northern Hemisphere climate and can be correlated to the “Turritella Layer” described in the NW Atlantic shelf, possibly in relation to the southward migration of the boreal biogeographical zone
  • From ca. 4000 a cal BP to present, the sediment flux proxies indicate enhanced variability in the amount of landderived material delivered to the Mediterranean by the Rhône River input
  • We suggest that this late Holocene variability is due to changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation and rainfall patterns in western Europe, including the increased variability of extension and retreat of Alpine glaciers
  • Anthropogenic impacts such as deforestation, resulting in higher sediment flux into the Gulf of Lions, are likely and should be taken into account better in the future

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