Tracking climate variability in the western Mediterranean during the Late Holocene: a multiproxy approach
1Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (CSIC-UGR), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Campus Fuentenueva s/n, 18002, Granada, Spain
2Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (CSIC), Lluís Solé i Sabarís s/n, 08028, Barcelona, Spain
3Marine Geochemistry and Chemical Oceanography Department, Geosciences Faculty, Utrecht University, 3508, Utrecht, The Netherlands
4Departament de Física – Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193, Bellaterra, Spain
5Departamento de Mineralogía y Petrología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Campus Fuentenueva s/n, 18002, Granada, Spain
Abstract. Climate variability in the western Mediterranean is reconstructed for the last 4000 yr using marine sediments recovered in the west Algerian-Balearic basin, near the Alboran basin. Fluctuations in chemical and mineralogical sediment composition as well as grain size distribution are linked to fluvial-eolian oscillations, changes in redox conditions and paleocurrent intensity. Multivariate analyses allowed us to characterize three main groups of geochemical and mineralogical proxies determining the sedimentary record of this region. These three statistical groups were applied to reconstruct paleoclimate conditions at high resolution during the Late Holocene. An increase in fluvial-derived elements (Rb/Al, Ba/Al, REE/Al, Si/Al, Ti/Al, Mg/Al and K/Al ratios), finer grain size, slower flows and oxygen-poor bottom waters – as suggested by sortable silt (10–63 μm), clays (< 2 μm) and redox-sensitive elements (V/Al, Cr/Al, Ni/Al and Zn/Al ratios) – depict the Roman Humid Period (RHP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA), while drier environmental conditions are recognized during the Late Bronze Age-Iron Age (LBA-IA) and the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). Although no Ba excess was registered, other paleoproductivity indicators (total organic carbon content, Br/Al ratio, and organometallic ligands such as U and Cu) display the highest values during the RHP, this period exhibiting by far the most intense productivity of the last 4000 yr. These marine sediments evidence oscillations that support the link of the westernmost Mediterranean climate with the North Atlantic coupled ocean-atmosphere climatic system, pointing to solar irradiance and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) variability as the main driving mechanisms behind natural climate variability over decadal to centennial time-scales for the last 4000 yr.