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Palaeoenvironmental evolution of the Barbate–Trafalgar coast (Cadiz) during the last ~ 140 ka: Climate, sea-level interactions and tectonics

Zazo Cardeña , Caridad and Mercier, Norbert and Lario, Javier and Roquero, Elvira and Goy Goy, José Luis and Silva, P.G. and Cabero del Río, Ana and Borja, Francisco and Dabrio, Cristino J. and Bardají Azcárate, Teresa and Soler Javaloyes, Vicente and García Blázquez, Ana and Luque, Luis de (2008) Palaeoenvironmental evolution of the Barbate–Trafalgar coast (Cadiz) during the last ~ 140 ka: Climate, sea-level interactions and tectonics. Geomorphology, 100 . pp. 212-222. ISSN 0169-555X

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Abstract

Coastal response to tectonic activity and eustatic-climate interactions during the Late Pleistocene and
Holocene has been analyzed along the Barbate–Trafalgar shoreline. The study area consists of an uplifted
platform (La Breña, ~140 m) bounded by two major NW–SE faults that have created two subsiding areas:
Meca in the west and Barbate in the east. The areas of subsidence have favoured the accumulation of a thick
morphosedimentary sequence consisting of (in ascending stratigraphic order) beach, alluvial, and aeolian
deposits, which repeatedly underwent soil-forming processes. This study outlines the palaeogeographical
evolution of the area over the last ~140 ka, as deduced from geomorphological mapping associated with a
range of laboratory analyses (mineralogical, geochemical, magnetic susceptibility, and soil micromorphology
analyses), optically stimulated luminescence (OSL dating), and existing U–Th dating. Special attention has
been paid to the alluvial unit, made up of vertically stacked sandy sheet-flood deposits with interbedded red
paleosols. OSL ages suggest that sediment supply to the alluvial/coastal environments took place mainly at
the end of the two most recent glacial periods (Oxygen Isotopic Stage [OIS] 6 and OIS 3/OIS 2) and during the
last interglacial period (end of OIS 5). This means that although alluvial sedimentation took place at times of
relatively high sea level, these were not times of highstand because very high sea levels (like the present)
allow marine erosion of the distal part of the fans (fan toes), cutting cliffed coasts.
The repeated occurrence of paleosols in the alluvial sequence seems to indicate a recurrence of
environmental changes that modified the feedback relationships between the catchment and the coastal
areas. These changes are recorded in repeated oscillations of soil parameters, and are revealed from the
results of geochemical and environmental magnetism analyses. We associate repeated pedogenesis and
alluvial sedimentation with the glacial/interglacial global climatic changes due to an oscillating humidity/
aridity ratio rather than with cyclicity in thermal regime.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Stratigraphic geology
Sciences > Geology > Geodynamics
ID Code:10871
Deposited On:18 Jun 2010 10:49
Last Modified:20 Sep 2010 14:08

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