Identification of the Last Glacial Maximum in the Upper Paleolithic of Portugal Using Magnetic Susceptibility Measurements of Caldeirão Cave Sediments


We have sampled Upper and Middle Paleolithic sediments in Caldeirão Cave, Portugal, for paleoclimatic analysis. This work involved measuring magnetic susceptibility (MS) on continuous vertical profiles of a series of ∼8 cc sediment samples, and using the MS data as a paleoclimate proxy. Previous work has shown that caves can be ideal recorders of paleoclimatic variations because they are protected environments. Pedogenesis outside the cave during time of cool climate produces sediments with low MS magnitudes, while warmer climates yield higher MS magnitudes. Eroded soils collect in caves in sediment sequences where further pedogenesis and biological disturbance is minimal. Continuously sampled profiles of those sediments found in an archaeological context then allow paleoclimatic estimates for all archaeological levels. Results of our work here include identification of the last glacial maximum, at ca. 24,000-22,000 B.P. (calibrated), defined by very low MS values found in basal Solutrean levels in the cave. Distinctive ca. 2500 year Neo-glacial cycles, defined by the MS data within the Early Upper Paleolithic and Solutrean, are consistent with published 14C duration estimates for the Upper Paleolithic in Caldeirão Cave. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



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© 1998 Wiley-Blackwell, All rights reserved.