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Introducing an improved multi-proxy approach for paleoenvironmental reconstruction of loess–paleosol archives applied on the Late Pleistocene Nussloch sequence (SW Germany)

Gocke, M., Hambach, U., Eckmeier, E., Schwark, L., Zöller, L., Fuchs, M., Löscher, M., Wiesenberg, G.L.B.
Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology 2014 v.410 pp. 300-315
bioturbation, carbon, color, earthworms, geophysics, insects, iron, loess, nitrogen, organic matter, paleoecology, paleosolic soil types, root growth, screening, soil formation, weathering, Central European region, Germany
To study paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic changes in loess–paleosol sequences (LPS), most proxies except for screening parameters have often been applied at low sampling density, typically 1–2 per stratigraphic unit. This might lead to results that overlook paleovegetation effects that were not only restricted to paleosols but also affected underlying loess material. Here, a new profile was investigated in the loess–paleosol sequence (LPS) at Nussloch, SW Germany using a high resolution multi-proxy approach to improve our understanding of the Late Pleistocene record which serves as a standard sequence in Central Europe. This approach included several geophysical and geochemical parameters, as well as frequencies of root-related features.Grain size distribution and OSL dating enabled correlation of the new section with the nearby standard profile P4, revealing considerable variations of the thickness of stratigraphic units due to local small-scale variations in depositional conditions and paleogeomorphology of longitudinal greda structures. Magnetic susceptibility revealed weathering of the entire LPS under more humid conditions than those described for SE European and Chinese LPS. It further enabled a rough differentiation between an interval that was influenced by pedogenic processes (Lower Pleniglacial to lower part of the Upper Pleniglacial), and loess that was not markedly affected by soil formation. Color measurements confirmed these results and enabled the identification of several paleosols in the Upper Pleniglacial. For the uppermost part of the LPS, low magnetic susceptibility and inorganic geochemical parameters such as low Fe/Ti ratios indicated only weak or no pedogenic influence. In contrast, considerable variations e.g. in carbonatic carbon contents and organic carbon/nitrogen (C/N) ratio might be related to the high frequency of calcified root remains (up to 200rhizolithsm−2 and up to 12,500microrhizolithsm−2) in certain depth intervals of the LPS, entailing incorporation and degradation of organic matter. Frequencies of biopores, which are suggested to derive largely from former root growth and, to a lesser extent, from insect and earthworm bioturbation, were related to paleosols, and thus confirmed the pedostratigraphy.An improved assessment of terrestrial sedimentary archives can be achieved by high-resolution multi-proxy analysis and three-dimensional investigation of terrestrial sediments that are prone to bioturbation.