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Palaeoenvironmental and palaeoseismic implications of a 3700-year sedimentary record from proglacial Lake Barrancs (Maladeta Massif, Central Pyrenees, Spain)

AuthorsLarrasoaña, Juan C. ; Ortuño, María; Birks, Hilary H.; Valero-Garcés, Blas L. ; Parés, Josep María; Copons, Ramón; Camarero, Lluís ; Bordonau, Jaume
KeywordsIberian Peninsula
Proglacial lakes
Environmental magnetism
Plant macrofossils
Glacier fluctuations
Issue Date1-Aug-2010
CitationPalaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 294(1-2): 83-93 (2010)
AbstractA multidisciplinary study including sedimentological, mineral magnetic, and palaeobotanical techniques applied to a sediment core recovered from proglacial Lake Barrancs in the seismically active Maladeta Massif has provided the basis for documenting environmental changes and palaeoseismic activity in the Central Pyrenees for the last ca. 3700 yr. Lake Barrancs is located downstream of the Tempestats and Barrancs cirque glaciers and sedimentation is dominated by clastic input corresponding to seasonal changes in sediment supply. Slow fine particle settling during the winter and sediment-loaded homopycnal flows during the warm season, triggered by snow-melting and glacier outwash, have resulted in deposition of rhythmites composed of clays, silts, and sands. The predominance of finer-grained sediments and the low concentration of relatively finer magnetite grains suggest that glacier activity was very small, if not absent, before ca. A.D. 350. Their replacement by coarser-grained sediments and the overall increased (but highly oscillating) concentrations of relatively coarser magnetite grains in the uppermost 4.3 m of the record suggest the onset of glacial activity and enhanced snow-melting in the catchment of Lake Barrancs after A.D. 350. We suggest that this onset of glacial and enhanced snow-melt activity was driven by a complex balance between winter precipitation and annual mean temperatures, among other climatic variables. Peat layers suggest two dramatic lake-level drops at A.D. 300 and A.D. 450, when Lake Barrancs was drained. The mechanisms for such extreme hydrological events are not clear. Changes in the precipitation/evaporation ratio cannot account for such desiccation events. Dam failure is unlikely since there are no geomorphological evidence of breaching processes. Geomorphological and structural evidence demonstrates active faulting since formation of Lake Barrancs and reactivation during earthquake shaking. Based on this, we propose an alternative explanation for the desiccation events that involves the draining of the lake through pre-existing fractures opened by earthquakes. Further studies in Lake Barrancs and other lakes from the Maladeta massif are necessary to validate the hypotheses presented here concerning the response of glacial and snow-melt activity to climate variability and the palaeoseismic record of the Central Pyrenees.
Description11 páginas, 5 figuras, 2 tablas.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.04.003
Appears in Collections:(IPE) Artículos
(CEAB) Artículos
(Geo3Bcn) Artículos
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