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 Most of Earth's carbon was hidden in the core during its formative years
02.04.2020 | Smithsonian

nachricht A sensational discovery: Traces of rainforests in West Antarctica
02.04.2020 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Harnessing the rain for hydrovoltaics

Drops of water falling on or sliding over surfaces may leave behind traces of electrical charge, causing the drops to charge themselves. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz have now begun a detailed investigation into this phenomenon that accompanies us in every-day life. They developed a method to quantify the charge generation and additionally created a theoretical model to aid understanding. According to the scientists, the observed effect could be a source of generated power and an important building block for understanding frictional electricity.

Water drops sliding over non-conducting surfaces can be found everywhere in our lives: From the dripping of a coffee machine, to a rinse in the shower, to an...

Im Focus: A sensational discovery: Traces of rainforests in West Antarctica

90 million-year-old forest soil provides unexpected evidence for exceptionally warm climate near the South Pole in the Cretaceous

An international team of researchers led by geoscientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have now...

Im Focus: Blocking the Iron Transport Could Stop Tuberculosis

The bacteria that cause tuberculosis need iron to survive. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now solved the first detailed structure of the transport protein responsible for the iron supply. When the iron transport into the bacteria is inhibited, the pathogen can no longer grow. This opens novel ways to develop targeted tuberculosis drugs.

One of the most devastating pathogens that lives inside human cells is Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis. According to the...

Im Focus: Physicist from Hannover Develops New Photon Source for Tap-proof Communication

An international team with the participation of Prof. Dr. Michael Kues from the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD at Leibniz University Hannover has developed a new method for generating quantum-entangled photons in a spectral range of light that was previously inaccessible. The discovery can make the encryption of satellite-based communications much more secure in the future.

A 15-member research team from the UK, Germany and Japan has developed a new method for generating and detecting quantum-entangled photons at a wavelength of...

Im Focus: Junior scientists at the University of Rostock invent a funnel for light

Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.

The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

13th AKL – International Laser Technology Congress: May 4–6, 2022 in Aachen – Laser Technology Live already this year!

02.04.2020 | Event News

“4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020” takes place over the internet

26.03.2020 | Event News

Most significant international Learning Analytics conference will take place – fully online

23.03.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Capturing 3D microstructures in real time

03.04.2020 | Materials Sciences

First SARS-CoV-2 genomes in Austria openly available

03.04.2020 | Life Sciences

Do urban fish exhibit impaired sleep? Light pollution suppresses melatonin production in European perch

03.04.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>