Last interglacial in western Europe: 20 years of multidisciplinary research on the Eemian (MIS 5e) calcareous tufa sequence at Caours (Somme basin, France) – a review - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles (Review Article) Boreas Year : 2024

Last interglacial in western Europe: 20 years of multidisciplinary research on the Eemian (MIS 5e) calcareous tufa sequence at Caours (Somme basin, France) – a review

Abstract

The calcareous tufa sequence and associated Palaeolithic site of Caours were discovered in 2002 during a test-pit campaign aimed at identifying last interglacial (MIS 5e) archives in the fluvial terrace system of the Somme basin, northern France. The presence of an outstanding stratigraphical succession with four in situ Palaeolithic layers within the tufa sequence has motivated archaeological excavations of the site since 2005. The first malacological studies and U-series ages quickly showed that the sequence was mainly deposited during the Eemian interglacial (MIS 5e). After 20 years of investigations, we propose here a summary of this multidisciplinary research project including stratigraphy, sedimentology, geochronology, geochemistry, malacology, mammals, palaeovegetation and archaeology. By combining 25 dates obtained by U-series, ESR/U-series, TL and OSL methods, the Caours calcareous tufa sequence is securely dated to the Eemian (123.1±2.8 ka). Based on the summary of the whole information, we propose a robust and detailed reconstruction of the modification of the valley environments between the Late Saalian and the Early Weichselian. At the scale of northwestern Europe, Caours provides a reference terrestrial molluscs record for the Eemian interglacial, including the climatic optimum, that is also described in the same layers by δ18O and δ13C analyses on calcite and by mammal remains. Moreover, the 300-m-long transect crossing the fluvial terrace covered by the tufa sequence and the bottom valley formation, combined with the chronology established from U-series and OSL ages, shows that the incision of the present-day valley, leading to the setting of the Very Low Terrace, was achieved during the first stages of the Early Weichselian (MIS 5d–5c). From an archaeological point of view, the configuration of the Caours site is unique at the scale of western Europe and demonstrates the adaptation of Neandertals to a forested environment and to fully temperate conditions during the Eemian.
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hal-04563846 , version 1 (30-04-2024)

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Pierre Antoine, Nicole Limondin-Lozouet, Julie Dabkowski, Jean‐jacques Bahain, Bassam Ghaleb, et al.. Last interglacial in western Europe: 20 years of multidisciplinary research on the Eemian (MIS 5e) calcareous tufa sequence at Caours (Somme basin, France) – a review. Boreas, 2024, 53 (3), pp.297-346. ⟨10.1111/bor.12654⟩. ⟨hal-04563846⟩
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