Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Germany was covered by glaciers 450,000 years ago

26.03.2018

New chronological data for the Middle Pleistocene glacial cycles push back the first glaciation and early human appearance in central Germany by about 100,000 years

The timing of the Middle Pleistocene glacial-interglacial cycles and the feedback mechanisms between climatic shifts and earth-surface processes are still poorly understood. This is largely due to the fact that chronological data of sediment archives representing periglacial, but also potentially warmer climate periods, are very sparse until now.


This boulder in the gravel pit Rehbach in Saxony, Germany, was transported from Scandinavia by glaciers 450,000 years ago.

Credit: MPI f. Evolutionary Anthropology

"The Quaternary sediments in central Germany are perfect archives to understand the climate shifts that occurred in the region during the last 450,000 years", says co-author Tobias Lauer, a geochronologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "This is because all sediments representing the ice advances and retreats of Scandinavian glaciers into Europe are preserved here." The sediments in the region, and especially in the area around the city Leipzig, are extremely well documented due to tens of thousands of drillings over the past few decades and open pits related to brown-coal mining.

Especially relevant are the river deposits of local rivers like the Weisse Elster and the Saale, which are preserved between the moraines of the so-called "Elsterian" and "Saalian" ice advances. "Especially the timing of the first major glaciation has been highly debated within the scientific community during the last few decades", says Lauer. "By dating the river deposits systematically we found that the first ice coverage of central Germany during the Elsterian glaciation (named after the river Elster) occurred during marine isotope stage 12, likely about 450,000 years ago, which is 100,000 years earlier than previously thought." To obtain these dates the researchers used luminescence dating, a technology that determines how long ago mineral grains were last exposed to sunlight or heat.

Tools from the Paleolithic

The river deposits also contain Lower- and Middle Paleolithic stone artefacts yielding important information on early human dispersal in central Europe. "The first traces of human Lower Paleolithic occupation in the area date back to about 400,000 years and are connected most probably to the interglacial period following the first major glaciation", says co-author Marcel Weiss, an archeologist at the Leipzig Max Planck Institute. "These traces are evidenced by more than 6,000 Lower Paleolithic stone artefacts that had been recovered from the gravel pits of Wallendorf and Schladebach in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany."

Middle Paleolithic stone artefacts from the same region are correlated with river deposits dated between 300,000 and 200,000 years ago and are associated with Neanderthals. The Pleistocene river gravel deposits from the top of the sequence in the former brown-coal mine Zwenkau, which is located south of Leipzig in Saxony, yielded the oldest Middle Paleolithic artefacts. This artefact inventory, the stone tool assemblage of "Eythra", is known for its numerous handaxes and dates back to about 280,000 years ago.

The youngest sediments from which the researchers obtained the new dates belong to the so-called Saalian glaciation (named after the river Saale). The southernmost ice advance of Scandinavian glaciers into Central Germany occurred about 150,000 years ago.

Impact on future research

"Our dates will have a major impact on the understanding of the timing of glacial cycles and climatic shifts of ice-age Europe", say the authors. "The first major glaciation had a huge impact on the environment and re-modeled the entire landscape. The newly determined ages of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic artefacts will help us in the future to reconstruct the ways in which humans populated or re-populated central Germany and central Europe following this major climatic impact."

The new data will also enable scientists to look further into questions regarding the ways humans adapted and reacted to the climatic shifts between cold glacials and warm interglacials during the Middle Pleistocene between roughly 450.000 to 150.000 years ago.

Media Contact

Sandra Jacob
jacob@eva.mpg.de
49-341-355-0122

http://www.eva.mpg.de 

Sandra Jacob | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Max Planck Institute Paleolithic Pleistocene climate shifts traces

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice
24.04.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Climate change in a warmer-than-modern world: New findings of Kiel Researchers
24.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum Technology for Advanced Imaging – QUILT

24.04.2018 | Information Technology

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>