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The influence of climate and sea-level change on the Holocene evolution of a Mediterranean coastal lagoon: Evidence from ostracod palaeoecology and geochemistry

September 20, 2013

Coastal lagoons provide an excellent basis for the study of processes controlling the evolution of a coastal zone. We examine the relative importance of these processes during the middle to late Holocene through a study of an 18.5 meter-long sediment record from the Albufera de Valencia (Spain). We combine sedimentological analyses with investigations into the palaeoecology, taphonomy and geochemistry (Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, δ18O and δ13C) of ostracod valves in order to assess the effects of sea-level changes, storm events and effective moisture on the evolution of a Western Mediterranean coastal wetland. The late Pleistocene sediments represent a subaerial environment, which was followed by a hiatus in deposition. The first Holocene unit (8700–7500 calendar yr. BP) is composed of typical lagoon-barrier and backshore sediments, deposited when seawater intruded into the lake and the climate was arid. The upper part of the sequence (between 7500 and 3400 yr.) is characterized by two sedimentary units, which correspond to Holocene progradation phases and humid climate associated with an increased freshwater influx to the lake accompanied by several high-energy events (paleostorms). Overall, the record shows that an arid climate prevailed in the western Mediterranean area between 8400 and 7600 yr. The main marine transgression and accompanying progradational phases occurred between 7000 and 3400 yr., which is confirmed by other studies of coastal evolution along the Mediterranean coast. The multiproxy reconstructions demonstrate that controls on sedimentation and palaeoecology in this Mediterranean coastal lagoon were complex.

Marco-Barba J, Homes J A, Mesquita-Joanes F, Miracle M R, in press, The influence of climate and sea-level change on the Holocene evolution of a Mediterranean coastal lagoon: Evidence from ostracod palaeoecology and geochemistry, Geobios, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.geobios.2013.05.003. Article (subscription required).

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